Back to Basics

What’s up everybody? Welcome to Ominous Designs 176. There is a non-zero chance I bit slightly more than I should chew today, but chew I will. I started with an idea that turned into a card, a card which turned into a cycle. We are going to have some time to talk today so without further ado, here I come with your five designs of the week.

Ashes // Ashes

The original idea. Some cards have “to” in their name, so why don’t we try and pretend their are Aftermath cards just for the fun of it?

Ashes to Ashes was one of the staples of my young magic life. What would happen if I tried to split it in two? One of the reason I was particularly tempted is that it would create two Ashes halves, and I wanted to be cheeky about it. The other reason is I could be relatively faithfully do it. Ashes to Ashes killed two creatures and made you lose 5 life, this version splits those into two payments of 3 life.

Dust // Dust

As I set myself on track for remaking a few cards, it was only normal I would look into adapting Dust to Dust next. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

This one was also a simple double effect card that could be easily split into two smaller effects.
Now I should mention, my point isn’t to split those exactly in the middle. Mind you, my point isn’t either to make a completely viable version with aftermath. I aim somewhere in the middle of those, I want the reference to be a fun and somewhat plausible, albeit imperfect design.

Bash // Bits

We are now cruising in our cycle, going through names of cards containing the word “to”. While looking for a red card, I found Bash to Bits.

The amazing factoid about the card from Odysseys is that it was featuring the flashback mechanic. In that respect, our version can be almost exactly the same as the original!

Basically the only difference is that ours doesn’t reference the actual flashback mechanic so Catalyst Stone wouldn’t work.

Gnaw // The Bone

And now for the green card. Gnaw to the Bone is a famous limited role player from Innistrad and also a pretty easy one to make into an aftermath card.
Gnaw to the Bone was another flashback card, and it was also doing the same thing twice! No big deal in terms of mechanics, not too brain intensive in matter of balancing either, we just split the card in the middle!

Originally both sides even costed the same in terms of mana so the funny part here is we created two almost identical sub-cards, one with aftermath.

Reduce // Dreams

Our final, blue card is a rare! Reduce to Dreams was also an interesting one to split. Since the original was returning both all artifacts and enchantment to their owners’ hands, I am separating the two for our last design of the day.

This makes for a lot more flexible and efficient card. I took to heart to keep the mana cost overall the same here, which might have lead to a slightly undercosted combination. I also made sure to keep most of the cost for the artifact half, so as to not make it a sorcery speed Hurkyl’s Recall.

I am not going to lie, I am rather glad we are done with those! I was a fun exercise and I invite you to make more of them but they are not as interesting to debate over. I hope you enjoyed the thought process and the cards, though.

My work is done here, I will now say good day or night to you, see you next week, and play responsibly.

 

Advertisements

May’s Fools

Hello everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs episode 175! I have two punny cards for you today so we’ll call them your May’s Fools cards, seeing that April 1st was about exactly one month ago. Let’s get to it.

Mana Sink
The funny story about Mana Sink is that in my head this was a pun. Little did I realize at the time that the two ideas I had in mind were the same word! The other interesting factor is that Mana Sink isn’t an existing magic the gathering card, while Mana Drain and Power Sink are.

As far as the card itself goes, it seemed obvious enough to me it had to be a counterspell. In the great Unglued tradition, the wacky element here is fun, in flavor, and asks something somewhat achievable from you though in this case I would be impressed if someone would get to actually pay the cost.

Laughter Pact is clearly enough a riff on Slaughter Pact. Talk about putting laughter in slaughter, am I right?
I always knew I wanted the card to revolve around who laughs first. It in itself is a fun mini-game to play and it fits the name.
I also aimed at mimicking the original as much as I could but I decided that wouldn’t include the “pay next turn or you lose the game” bit. Close enough though, I added the condition that you would lose if nobody laughed by the end of next turn. If you can’t make this into an edict effect for free by tricking your opponent into laughing, you will have to put on your own fake laugh and sacrifice a creature.

That is all, hope you like the puns and cards. Magic is ripe of opportunities for those, as exemplified by the two “Un-sets”. Let me know if you have more and I will be sure to mention them in our next episode.

See you next time, have a great week 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!

 

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!

The Haunting, Part 2

Today we are continuing the series we started last week with more cards for the mechanic imbue. This time we are going to get a little fancier. To that effect, here are three cards in Jund colors.

Gloombearer Elemental gloombearer-elementalis basically a fixed version of Gnarled Scarhide. The idea is to bring negative effect to imbue, so that you would imbue onto an opponent’s creature instead of yours.

Not only it is always cheap, but you don’t have to choose between a small creature for yourself and soft removal for your opponent.
Letting it also be a 2/1 for 2 might have put it over the top and I prefer not to take the risk and make it a common instead, for one more Mana.

In limited it should be fairly powerful, though I am not certain how much but I would gladly try it out.

rage-carrierRage Carrier is a very close design, sort of the red version of the previous one.
In recent sets, we consistently have had a red creature which has to attack every turn in. We also had a 2/3 version virtually for 1 mana and with upside in Shadow over Innistrad: Town Gossipmonger.

This one comes with both upside and downside, so we should be fine at the common.
A 2/3 is fairly hard to kill on curve so the downside should be less of an issue compared to the upside which is relatively close to a removal, seeing that this one is targeted, much like Skin Invasion.

greater-moss-hydraGreater Moss-Hydra.
Finally we see both first Mythic and the first triggered ability version of imbue and it is definitely a big, splashy rare.

It isn’t guaranteed that you will gain more value out of it unless you get to attack and control another creature, but that is quite a low bar. Even against a deathtouch creature you should at least do some damage and leave a counter and a nice ability behind. I just noticed that I might need to give trample to the imbued creature for consistency but the Hydra would probably need to cost 7 in that case. Balance aside this is a pretty fun design.

This is it for the imbue mechanic as well as for this article! Time for me to say see you next week and until then,play responsibly!

The Haunting

Hey all, welcome to Ominous Designs 146. Our title today, The Haunting, tells us a bit about the process behind a new mechanic. That mechanic is called Imbue, and it’s a combination of Haunt, Bestow and potentially Cipher.

We are going to look at three different rarities of mostly simple implementation of the mechanic, – french vanilla if you will – and next week we will try and do some fancier things with it.

galewingGalewing is our common, and the usual blue flyier, except this time it is not a Wind Drake. It borrows more from Gravity Negator.
As you can see, the idea with imbue is that when your creature dies, it will lend some of its power to another creature until that one dies.

With flying, it is tricky to balance power level since depending on the situation, the imbue ability could be quite powerful.
When in doubt though, I go back to Nimbus Naiad and tell myself that for 5 mana I could have +2/+2 flying as well as a 2/2 flyer, so there is still a chance that our version is reasonable.

gleambearer-elementalGleambearer Elemental.

For the uncommon, we are looking at a smaller creature. I first considered using first strike for this one but didn’t like the potential swinginess of it.

I went for lifelink, giving us something similar to Hopeful Eidolon. As eidolon taught us, giving lifelink to a big creature can be quite the pain in the butt, so even if the power might be fine, I don’t think we would what it to be a common thing.

Still, Gleambearer is a tight little designs and a pretty great 2 drop if you ask me.

blazelasherBlazelasher.
Our rare is red, and angry! A double striker who gives double strike to another creature should be a lot of fun to play.

I danced around for a bit, trying to figure out what the cost of a 2/2 double strike should be, seeing things like 2 mana for Scourge Wolf or 4 for Hounds of Griselbrand. I think we should be good at 3 mana, just looking at Silverblade Paladin and Arashin Foremost which mostly have better upsides.
The one remaining question is should red have access to those stats, and I don’t see why not.

This is it for the week! I am happy with the design. It is not the most creative but definitely solid and tight. I cannot really think of a reason it would be a developmental problem and I can on the other hand imagine it be fun to play with. Hope you will agree! If you don’t just let me know why.

That is all for the week, I will see you next time for episode 147. Until then, 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!