Remaking Magic

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 149 or Ominous Designs. Today we are going to set on a mission to fix some of the most powerful and what some might say broken designs of older days of Magic the Gathering. Our two patients – victims? – are Shahrazad and Umezawa’s Jitte.

story-timeStory Time
What makes it so that Shahrazad is banned in all formats? In great part it is that it takes forever to play games within games. To make it faster, Story Time’s subgame ends as soon as one life or one creatures is lost, each player can keep a creature to start, and life totals are not changed. This should allow us to use a simpler reward for the winner, like an extra turn and some life.
I now realize do that first part being triggered ability breaks the design – a player can still remove a creature in response to the trigger and win the subgame – which needs to be addressed. Maybe making it a cast trigger would work?

kondas-tachiKonda’s Tachi

This one is pretty straightforward. Of course keeping counters on the equipment itself is great, but what makes Umezawa’s Jitte truly ridiculous is the fact that it depends on combat damage to anything, creature or player, and that it creates two counters each time. In fact, only getting one counter each turn when hitting a player, probably makes Konda’s Tachi slightly under powered.

If it is, we can easily fix that by adding some evasion to the equipment itself – skulk, trample? – and/or perhaps tweaking the modes.

I am happy with the equipment but I wish I had noticed the issue with our new Shahrazad earlier. There is a chance using a cast trigger fixes most of the issues and at the end of the day, an abusable 5 mana card that gives you an extra turn isn’t the end of the world unless it’s recursive. The biggest downside remains that the design is still very wordy and sometimes might still make the game last a fair bit longer.

That’s it for the week, I will see you next time for the big 150! I hope you are as excited as I am. I have more than one surprise in store for you, so you should tune in to the Responsible Gaming channel to see the live episode next Tuesday night, around 7PM PST.

See you in seven days and until then, play responsibly!



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!


More Darkness

Hello everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs Episode 123. This week we are adding two more designs to the gothic horror themes of Innistrad. You will see that those are all about flavor and I’m quite content with where we landed for that.

Summon the BeastThe first one is Summon the Beast.

What is there to say about this one? First, I hope you got the reference. You are meant to form the Number of the Beast by a combination of permanents, life total and cards and your graveyard. I think it is doable, but only the most dedicated Johnnys will try. As such, the card is most definitely not a overpowered but another one of those fun alternate win conditions.

I could envision someone trying to get to 6 life by just casting milling spells and playing lands until they can play Summon of the Beast.

Key to the MysteryNext up is Key to the Mystery.

It has been a couple of weeks I wanted to create a a card of the new artifact subtype Clue. Here it is, and it is a legendary one! I want to keep this clue in the realm of drawing cards or card selection and as it turns out there aren’t that many things left out because of Tamiyo’s Journal.

I opted for a recurring scry effect and the same draw ability as other clues, but on steroids. You can also see Key to the Mystery a divination for 4 colorless mana in two installments, which sounds amazing for a base.

That’s it for the week! I think the designs today were pretty straightforward and very flavorful. Not the most challenging for balancing either, the Key to the Mystery might still be on the powerful side though.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I also created a cute little new edition symbol to match with the Ominous brand. I’m pretty happy with it.

I’m looking forward to next week, when we’ll figure out if I still have more Innistrad designs in me. Until then, I hope you all have a great week see you next time!

Scary Things

Hi everybody! This is Ominous, writing to you for episode 121 of Ominous Designs. This week we are still playing around the dark themes of Innistrad, with new scary designs. We will probably hang around here for another week or two, so I hope you like gothic horror setting. Now let’s get started, shall we?

Staff of PunishmentOur first card today is Staff of Punishment.
This design was inspired by the /r/custommagic community which is currently looking for a cheap artifacts for their cube. I wanted to make Staff the cheapest possible artifact that can ping. One is the cheapest I can do and I really want to keep one mana as well for the activation cost, to protect against crazy combos. I’m relatively convinced that for this cheap it needs to hurts its owner as well.

On top of just trading up or even destroying small creatures, it can be used just to reduce both players life total every turn, like a small Sulfuric Vortex.

Aymon Who Cheats DeathNext is Aymon, Who Cheats Death.

This one gave me some trouble. I wanted to make demon that would grant you cards for killing your opponent’s creature. The problem is if your opponent has a sacrifice outlet they can kill you on the spot by making you draw your entire library!
I had to limit this to the first time each turn to prevent endless activations. It’ll be challenging, do make your opponent’s creatures nearly immortal and I don’t know for a fact that it’s worth it to transform kill spells into cantrips that do nothing. At the very least it’s interesting to think about. Play with Decree of Pain for added Hilarity.

It’s going to be it for today, we’re making it a short article. I hope you enjoyed the designs, I’m keeping some very tasty mechanics for next week. Hope you look forward to that and until then I’m wishing you a great week

Beam me up, Scotty

Hello again, hope you are all having a great week so far. I have to say I am pretty pleased with this whole “I thought I was going somewhere this week, but I ended up creating something slightly different” dynamic that seems to be happening more often that not. It makes it all feel more like an organic creative process.

I had a couple designs in mind for today, but the first one led to the creation of a brand new mechanic. In turns I saw the opportunity to bend my second design to showcase that mechanic some more. Today I am introducing to you the Izzet ability Teleport.

Bringer of Storm and FireBringer of Storm and Fire. Not that excited with the name but it’s ok. This one is an attempt to fix Shrieking Mogg which was pretty dysfunctional.
Introducing Teleport, an ability that will possibly be controversial as really it is an alternate casting cost with flash – as all abilities by default, but I opted to mention it in the reminder text.
Myself, I think it is good to have fundamentally trivial abilities with a keyword, as they offer a template for slightly more complex effects. See Monstrous and Renown.
Bringer works many ways. With open mana defensively or at the end of an opponent’s turn, during your turn, before or after attacking.

Kahu CommandoKahu Commando.

That one I had in mind for a while but I decided to bend slightly to make use of Teleport.
You can now use it as a 2/1 with Force Spike and some upside for 2UR! The new version is quite wordy but I think it gets there – maybe barely.

From this design you could go many ways. Do we want the Disrupters to counter only noncreature spells? Mane the cost to pay 2? Create the tokens every time you cast a spell?
Many ways to adapt this design but regardless I really like the idea of the disrupter tokens.

DisrupterBefore we finish, here is one of those pretty disrupter tokens. It might help you wrap your mind around the design.

And that wraps it up for the day! Like I said I think Teleport opens a great space for designs of cards you could cast at either sorcery or instant speed for different effects. I do believe red isn’t an ideal space for flash effects, but Izzet is.
I would love for it to be extended to all colors, much like Evoke, but keeping a creature you casted at instant speed doesn’t feel right across the board. If you guys have any idea what to do about that, do let me know!

Either way it is now time for me to wish you a great week, and I’ll be talking to you again next time! Have a good one.

Mana Mana Mana

…Batman? Nevermind. As it turns out there was another subject I haven’t dealt with this year, and not that much since the beginning of this blog either: it’s making mana. At large, mana producing isn’t the biggest space in magic cards design – you don’t want to get too fancy with it and instead rely on good old basic lands – but it’s definitely an interesting area to explore.

Lucky you, this week you are getting an artifact – what we call a mana rock – and a full cycle of 10 two-color lands! Let’s check those out right away.

Eye of KerathAs you can see Eye of Kerath is the mana stone.

I was wondering what kind of card could be made, using for downside that producing mana of any color would let an opponent draw a card. I believe a free artifact might be it!

Now to keep this card in check, there are a couple things to look at: would the modern deck Affinity play it? What about Storm? Lastly, how does it impact Legacy? Commander?
I think we are mostly safe on all fronts, but just in case I wanted to experiment with making it legendary. I wonder why it was hardly ever done.

Citadel RuinsNw for the big cycle. Citadel Ruins is the first land I created.

My main idea was to make a cycle of dual lands with a color making you lose life, but the other one gaining you some back.

My biggest worry was that the downside wouldn’t be great enough, and soon that you would find yourself with a bunch of lands gaining you life every turn.

You are looking at my second iteration. It would still need work and testing, as we need a strong incentive to not just play 12 of those is every deck!

Do tell me what you think of those. Now I’ll be leaving you with the full cycle of those beautiful lands, hope you will enjoy them. It’s been tons of fun working on their flavor; I wasn’t really set to make a cycle but I could help myself in the end.

I’ll be talking to you next week, until then have a good one!

Cursed Crater






Frozen Necropolis

Hexed Jungle Highfalls Castle Marsh Road Raging Peak Rethik Academy Rumination Pool Woods Edge Temple

Uncharted Territories

Hey all. I received a lot of great feedback about the Endless on /r/custommagic, turns out people are passionate about them! This week, after making my first design I decided we were going weird, push creativity to places cards aren’t going often or perhaps at all! It should be exciting. Here is said first design:

Kerathan PlagiaristKerathan Plagiarist. I have thought of such design before but I don’t think I ever made it. It turned out quite a bit less complicated to implement than I would have thought.
Definitely makes for a powerful card, especially if used with expensive abilities, bypassing paying for their activation.

For that though, there was already Illusionist’s Bracers which wasn’t a particularly popular card. The advantages here are that you are getting a creature, and can copy any ability being used which could be helpful to counter something your opponents are doing.

Ozynn DynacasterOzynn Dynacaster came out while trying to make a second design as weird as possible.
And weird it is! So much that I don’t think it could be printed. The issue as I see it is that you don’t want to be churning out through all your deck every time, in the hope of finding a spell that you might not even have. It’s like cascade, but worse.

The card is fun though! It doesn’t do damage, but casts a spell for free every time it “hits”. The second ability was added for obvious facilitative reasons. The other remaining question is whether or not it is ok to to Dynacaster be that weak when blocked, and just do no damage.

Elarian BlacksmithI needed more this week so I set out to make a last design, which came to me pretty easily. It is Elarian Blacksmith, and it literally makes weapons.

There really isn’t that much to say about this ability, except that it is a much unexplored space that I assume will be filled one day, but already contains one single design, that is Nahiri, the Lithomancer.

Making it easy to use might create complex board states and is possibly a tad too powerful. Iterating on development would tell us about that.

That’s it for this week! As usual I hope you enjoyed the designs and I’ll be seeing you in 7 days for more. I’m leaving you with this equipment token made specially for Elarian Blacksmith. Have a great week!

Elarian Steel