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!

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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!