The Elite

Hello everybody and welcome to this new episode of Ominous Designs. Today we have a new mechanic! A little while ago I tried to solve the lack of decimals in power and toughness by introducing the concept of a 2+/2+, for example. Let’s see what this means and how I tried to address the issue this time.

Dolnian WatchdogDolnian Watchdog.
A 2+/3+ would have been a creature that twins fights against other 2/3 but still loses to 3/3. This is exactly what Brawler is supposed to achieve. Watchdog is a simple vanilla creature, for all intents and purposes a regular 2/3 but it’ll still win a fight against another 2/3.

Simple, right? This is similar in practice to first strike but much less explosive with combat tricks. Brawler is really only trying to to create to finer scale of power and toughness. Watchdog doesn’t have more than 3 toughness stand still dies to 3/3 and 3/2 which is a little weird but acceptable.

Viashino TollkeeperViashino Tollkeeper pushes that Brawler mechanic one notch further.

Starting at a reasonable size of 3/3, the viashino wins fights against other 3/3 but also against 4/4 thanks to his Rootwalla ability. This makes him quite hard to block. Trample is a nice add for a beefy Brawler such as this one.

Your options against tollkeeper would be a 4/3 or maybe a creature with 5 toughness. To be completely safe you would need a 4/5 which is pretty great for a 4 drop that originally was only a lowly 3/3, wouldn’t you say?

How do you feel about the Brawler mechanic? I like the idea as more subtle combat with low power and toughness creatures. I could imagine a set where most creatures center around a few major sizes like 2/2, 2/3, 3/3, 4/4, etc. I was also thinking there could be a 2/3 reach creature and it’s nemesis, the 2/3 flying brawler. Possibilities are endless. Let me know if you come up with more!

This is all for this week, I shall see you again next for episode 139. Until then have a great one and play responsibly!

 

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From Above

Hi everybody. Today for episode 133 of Ominous Designs we are going to do something different than usual: top down designs from illustrations. What I did in the video is I went through some images I have sitting in my vault, picked the most evocative ones and created cards based on what they inspired me. As a consequence there is extra value to my Twitch/Youtube clips this week, so don’t hesitate to check them out!

Brutal AssaultBrutal Assault.

This one should be easy to figure out. I loved the idea that this was an action picture, and that it was mostly green. A fight spell seemed to be the obvious choice here.

Since we are doing flavour designs, I had to go for the Samurai writer here. With a base of one extra mana on Prey Upon original casting cost, I think it works quite well and is a somehow playable spell for limited, maybe even good in a set that actually includes samurais. Maybe we will need it when we go back to Kamigawa…

Lithomancer ShepherdLithomancer Shepherd.

As mandated, this illustration is as well very flavourful. The stone golem being raised just has to be an awoken mountain from Zendikar!
I had a quick look and to my great surprise only one red card – Boiling Earth – features the mechanic Awaken.
Since the visual focus is on the Shaman here, I tried to enable him to create multiple elementals. Shepherd now basically creates a 2/2 for 2 – or reinforces a land with 2 +1/+1 counters – every time you cast an instant or sorcery, which I think is nice but far from too powerful.

Simple, straight forward, flavourful. Yes? This week I am rather happy with both the creative and the power level of the cards. None of them are too good but they are definitely fine enough for limited, perhaps even casual constructed.

I hope you enjoyed those as well, don’t hesitate to comment on them either way! Now is time to bid you farewell for this week, so see you next time and have a great one!

 

After the Maths

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 122 of Ominous Designs. Today we are finally going to see the mechanic I teased last week: Aftermath. It took me a whole day to upload my video this week but I had recorded it a day early so everything is fine. Since our mechanic is so interesting and pretty easy to come up with cards for, we are going to see three of them today. Starting with…

Survive the SlaughterThe first card is Survive the Slaughter.

As you can see, aftermath is a variation of flashback where the second time you cast the card causes a different effect. It was pretty hard to find a template for it and I don’t think I came up with the best one yet. Either way as you can see Survive the Slaughter is a mass removal spell that hopefully will give you a creature back.

I wanted the card to be over-costed enough so that it isn’t too oppressive but it definitely will still be very good, especially when combined to other removal spells.

Toy with MindsOur second card is Toy with Minds.

This one is very straightforward. It starts with an over-costed mind rot and follows up with a very over-costed divination.

We obviously don’t want a card of the sort that doesn’t cost something like four extra mana, because it is a 4-for-1! I still think it’s good as it is.

I decided to go for black cards with an aftermath cost of an other color, and that’s entirely arbitrary and mostly an esthetic choice. We could play with any color combination instead.

Succumb to RageFinally, we have Succumb to Rage.

This one is either two combat tricks or a removal, albeit conditional.
I didn’t want a card to be a removal and also two efficient combat tricks, but as a result the trick parts seem fairly boring. I’m pretty sure we can do better but then again there is the whole “trick + trick + removal” upside.

As it is, the deathtouch part can give you a 1-for-2 and sometimes a 1-for-1, while the aftermath can give you a 1-for-0 so even playing it that way is somewhat acceptable.

And that’s going to do it for today! Aftermath is worth thinking about and coming up with lot of new cards, as well as other wordings or templates. Let me know if you can think of other designs I’ll be happy to look at them.

Before I leave, I want to announce a couple new features for Ominous Designs and Responsible Gaming. I am still updating our branding, you might have noticed a couple changes on this site’s header. I also booked the url www.responsiblegmg.com, you can now go check out Responsible Gaming portal there, which contains most of my social links. You can also contact me at ominous@responsiblegmg.com, which is pretty sweet.

That’s about all for this week, once again thanks for reading/watching. I hope you liked the cards and all have a great week. See you next time!

Thorns, Lots Of

Hello everybody! I am pleasantly surprised by how many of my recent articles are containing a new mechanic. Today is part of that trend and the mechanic of the week is called Thorns. You might be familiar with Thorn Elemental, who I explain in my weekly video was the inspiration for the following three cards. Time to look at them, shall we?

Thornspine MongrelThornspine Mongrel is our classic bear declination of the mechanic, to ease us into it.

As you can see Thorns functions the following way: whenever the creature becomes blocked, it deals damage to defending player equal to its thorn number for each creature blocking it. If you block this charming puppy with one creature, you still take 1 damage, and if you block it with two you will take 2, etc. Such is the power of Thorns 1.

It seems completely to me fine for a common, since most times you will only need to block this guy with one creature to get rid of him.

Shardwind HellkiteShardwind Hellkite. Now we’re talking!
This one is emulating the somewhat recent tradition of extremely powerful flyers with haste for 5 mana or less.

As a 4/4 flying dragon with haste for 5, Hellkite rivals with Stormbreath Dragon and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. Those have another upside as well though. Hellkite’s upside is that if you ever find yourself blocking it, you will take at least 3 damage. Since blocking huge dragons isn’t something you want to do too often, I think it should be reasonable, and probably not as good as either Stormbreath or Sarkhan.

Karathan TarasqueKarathan Tarasque is actually the first idea I had when toying around with the concept of Thorns.

This lizard beast is a big dummy, one that will already deal you 2 damage if you chump it and 4 if you double block it. The twist though, is that when you get to 7 mana, it can force all creatures to block it, dealing them and the defending player a whole bunch of damage in the process.

I had some trouble tweaking the power, cmc, thorns and ability cost perfectly so I went for a conservative mix. Tell me how good you think we can make it!

That does it for the day. I do believe the Thorns mechanic provides an interesting design space. Like I said in the making off video, I could see people claim that it is too trivial an effect to make a mechanic out of it, but I disagree. I think you need simple mechanics, keywords to create design spaces without using as many words all the while adding cohesion and a theme. In a set featuring Thorns you could have other cards that care about blocking, forcing to block or not block, preventing damage without blocking etc.

Either way I hope you enjoyed the cards. Let me know what you think and regardless I’ll be talking to you again next ween. Have a good one!

Fallow Me

Hi everybody! I have a lot of news for this last post of the year so let’s get to it.

First, I just received my 2015 blog recap which you can find here. I was delighted to see that I had over 4 thousand views this year, most coming from the US but also a lot from Canada, Brazil, France and Germany. I was also pleased to see that my biggest daily post got over 175 views in a day, and it was not due to some referral anomaly but one of my solid designs of the year, Gruesome Sentence. Similar comment applies to my most viewed article of the year, which features two simple designs inspired by Magic Origins. Last trivia fact, I only missed my deadline and posted on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday 3 times for the whole year!

I am now going to keep the last piece of news for the end of this article, and proceed to introduce this week’s theme: the brand new mechanic Fallow – see terrible pun in the article title. The idea with Fallow is that you can discard a land as you cast the card, to get some extra effect. Simple! Now the cards themselves.

Plan for the FuturePlan for the Future is the first. Green uncommon.

Adding an extra effect to a fetch land when you discard a land is a trick that came very naturally to me. Plan for the Future starts as a Sorcery speed Rampant Growth, but there’s a twist…

If you discard a land as an additional cost, you get yourself a second land, this one in your hand. This is Cultivate for 2 and a land discarded.

Allegedly discarding lands isn’t what you want to do when fetching lands but if you look at it like a bonus, it’s an added fixing effect for your ramp.

Storming the Burning FieldsStorming the Burning Fields. Red rare.

The idea of a damage spell as well as the name was given to me by follower Magstarcraft.
I actually quite like the idea of a spell that can switch between dealing 3 to one creature and to the whole board. I think even at sorcery speed and sometimes costing you a land, it is still a fairly powerful and very flexible spell.

The reason to discard a land isn’t the most obvious but I figured that it could be an affordable cost. Ideally such things would be supported in a block containing the fallow mechanic.

Harsh SovereignHarsh Sovereign is our common of the day.

One of the tricky part about this new mechanic is there won’t be unlimited access lands for you to spend into fallow in a regular game of Magic.
Plan for the Future doesn’t actually cost you a land, and Storming the Burning Fields is situational. Harsh Sovereign himself is a reasonable creature, with a nice upside if you do have a land ready to be fallowed.

Drain for 2 is a 4 points of life swing, not too shabby for a common. 3 Would get us into Siege Rhino territory!

And those were the cards for this 112th article. Now for the big news… You have known for a couple of months that Bullzzai will be rebranded to Ominous Designs. Well there is something even bigger on the way, and it’s coming fast. Responsible Gaming is a new Channel that I am now starting, and it will include Ominous Designs as well as hopefully a bunch of other Magic and other gaming content.

As an opening act I have started live streaming on twitch – see link here – the making of my weekly articles. I also made this episode accessible offline on my Youtube Channel, here. You can finally see my weekly process and hear some of the reasons motivating my choices! Lucky you. I still have a bunch of things to put in order, such as logos, templates, and finishing the rebranding of Bullzzai, but you can already start following my channel and find Responsible Gaming on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you like all of this new content! I had a great time setting all of that up, and I have yet more to do. Let me know if you have any advice or feedback, I’ll be sure to factor that in for my future work. I’m quite excited with it all.
I’ll be seeing you next week now, you all have a great new year!

The Gift of Eldrazi

Hi everybody! One day I will fail posting my weekly article, but today is not that day. I have prepared a couple of designs before I left for my christmas vacations and now is time for me to present them to you.

Our not-so christmas-y theme is… White Eldrazi! You have probably noticed that the choice was made to create Eldrazi creatures in all colors but white in Battle for Zendikar. Even though I don’t think it was a mistake, I would like us to try and think about what those might have looked like. As such I have two candidates for you today.

Voiceless ShepherdVoiceless Shepherd.

This little guy has a very odd body. We usually like to describe such a card as virtually a 2/3 for 2, which is great. It also has the upside of being spread on two bodies, one of which being a sometimes useful scion token. As Bow on that package, shepherd gives vigilance to all Eldrazi Drones as long as you still control Scions.

Power level on this card is very intricate and rather hard to figure out, but I think it’s fairly high. A 1/2 body could still be very underwhelming, so I think we’re not risking being too good either.

Void ContemplatorVoid Contemplator is our Processor of the day.
A very straight forward one. I can’t imagine there is anything wrong about it except perhaps being a little weak, which is fine.
I based myself on Oracle of Dust, though being a bit put off by how easy it is nowadays for blue to get a 3/5 for 5, I downgraded this one. In the end it was an arbitrary decision that hurt the card and might have been less justified in white, but I think the design is still acceptable if not powerful. We can always tweak the numbers back up.
Void Contemplator’s ability is very white and I think deceptively powerful.

That’s it for our snow-colored giants today! I hope you liked them. I created a contest in my designer group and had several people come up with more of them, which was quite fun.

Now is time for me to get back the my christmas celebrations, I hope you are all having a great time during the holidays and I’ll be seeing you next week!

Fix What’s Broken

Hello everybody! Today I will finally feature what I have been teasing for a while now: my own custom made set of about 250 cards!

IMG_20151113_153829My girlfriend had this made as an amazing birthday present a couple weeks ago, and I have been sleeving them, making them into decks and play testing them with her since then. Now I can finally show the world.
She had the help from San Francisco printing company in called HH Imaging, and the result looks pretty great! Click the images to see for yourself.

IMG_20151113_102653As you can see they have a beautiful back that sports the name Ominous, which is part of a rebranding that I am working on.
Bullzzai is my brand for Magicky things that I named after a life long nickname Banzzai. In the past few years I have taken on blogging, app making and streaming and I want to create a better brand under this more catchy name.

IMG_20151118_124320 (1)From having sleeved and played those cards I can tell you that they are at the same time amazing in quality and impossible to mistake for actual magic cards. They are slightly thicker, definitely glossier, and from a minor mistake slightly too big to fit in non clear sleeves.
At the same time, both the Ominous background and the Magic Set Editor template are well different from actual cards, which I think is great as I am not trying to make fake cards. Those still look and play fantastic though.
One minor issue was I ended up having to use clear sleeves and put Ominous cards in my basic land sleeves as well, to show the same back.

IMG_20151113_181810Now the play testing is definitely the best part.

It is a blast being able to actually play my favorite designs from the past two years against each other! It wasn’t the easiest making decks out of cards that were not created to function with each other, but with the help of mana fixing I could create two 3 color decks that are really fun.

Here you can see my girlfriend wrecking me by casting a rare Angelic War Leader, followed by Eternal War, that destroys all non-demon and non-angel creatures!

I was feeling a bit salty but couldn’t resist immortalizing the bad beat. Playing them made me wish my designs were perfect, and now I want them to better them even more.

As such, today I decided to feature two designs that I have been playing with recently and I think should be fixed. Let’s have a look at them.

Command the Winds(2)Command the Winds original version costed 4 manas.
I figured at the time that since I added the “only if you have a flying creature” clause it would be ok, but it turned out being all too easy to make happen for a killer effect.

I toyed around with the idea of making it draw only one card if you don’t, for the same cost, but that would then make for an either useless or amazing card.
With a cost of 5, Command the Winds becomes a less powerful version of Jace’s Ingenuity, which feels better to me. More playtesting to come!

Orzhov Hypocrite(2)Orzhov Hypocrite used to have first strike and lifelink and drain you for 2 when coming into play.

First strike on a 2 drop seemed way too powerful for my format, given that I was playing it in a Mardu deck facing much less aggressive green and blue designs, which didn’t help at all.

Even then, I feel like vigilance and lifelink makes for a more balanced design. I now wonder if I could have kept the initial drain to 2 instead of raising it to 3 as I did for this version. What I needed to do though is raise its toughness from 1 to 2, which makes total sense here.

What do you think? I am happier with the new versions of my cards; it’s definitely a minor bummer to realize your designs are broken but it feels great knowing that you can make it all better and keep iterating until they are truly fun to play.

I want to reiterate huge thanks to my life partner for this amazing gift. I was the happiest unwrapping it and I will love playing over and again and bettering myself as a designer in the process. I hope you enjoyed the story, I will probably revisit other ones in the near future, as I play more with them!

Look forward to it and until then, have a great week!