We Have a Winner

Hey everybody! After about a hundred votes, we finally have a winner to our 2014 design contest, and it is Binding Ritual with 63% of the votes! I’ll be honest I’m glad it’s over; it was a lot of work! Ritual was also one of my favorite, though for reasons previously mentioned – mostly templating – it would have looked even better in the Return to Ravnica block, as an Orzhov equivalent to Detention Sphere.

Binding RitualSome people called it unimaginative, which I think isn’t quite fair for a card that is a deliberate twist on a popular design. I believe some have called it too powerful, but others also said it could have costed only a white and a black, as it only targets creatures.

Like I said last week, the last version works better in multiplayer, since you might give the life you stole from an opponent back to another one. That’s just a detail though.

All in all I’m glad this design was enjoyed by many.

Redditor IAMACasualRedditor is the lucky winner of the contest and gets a steam edition of the game Terraria – an awesome 2D clone of Minecraft, with more weapons and monsters! I’m stocked to have discovered the reddit community of /r/custommagic, which is full of amazing creators and great feedback. I will spend a lot more time there in the near future.

One of the recurring topics on this subreddit is card mashups. The winner of the previous round will post a random card, and all participant will also figure out their own card at random, and mix both of those in one new mashup design. Let me give you an example.

Click here to see a random magic card.Mashup


I had to pick two cards at random to play on my own for this post, and I picked Patron Wizard and Reprisal.

TPatron Warleaderhe result is Patron Warleader! I was on the fence about keeping the triple white mana cost, but consider this: alongside a turn 2 knight, you can start killing attacking creatures with power 2 as soon as turn 3!

In fact, if you played a 2 drop vigilance knight – which isn’t that rare – the turn before, it can attack nicely, without worrying about being blocked!

Either way, I don’t imagine the card is constructed playable, but isn’t it a blast to create designs that way? I think it is great. I also had some fun with the flavor text, and obviously the name.

If you can’t get enough of my designs, don’t hesitate to check out my reddit profile, as I’m posting extra designs there every now and then.

Either way, it’s time for me to wish you a great week, so see you next time!

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Homemade Boros

Hey all. It’s been a long relaxing weekend, and I’m now back on the overly busy saddle. Let’s keep things easy this week and have a look at one of my limited deck designs: red white aggro. Aggro is almost an unneeded qualifier for this color combination, this is what Boros is all about! This deck features a new mechanic I created, play-tested…And will likely need to fix up a bit: Combo. Let’s see what the cards look like!

dolmiraDolmira, Spear of Volaria.

Quick overview of the combo mechanic. Whenever it’s the x’th – second, third, etc. – time a source you control deals damage during a turn, the combo ability on creatures you control trigger. If two of your creatures hit a player, you get combo 2. If you add a direct damage spell, you have combo 3.

Well this legendary angel will give lifelink to a creature you control when you deal damage twice during a turn, and it will untap all your creatures when you deal damage for the third time.
The very tricky aspect of combo, as it showed up during play-testing, is that it is easy to get up to combo 3, 4, or 5 by just attacking with that many creatures. It is also easy to bump the combo meter up by casting a couple direct damage spells, or having direct damage abilities, which don’t even cost you anything. It becomes very fun though, when you can separate combo abilities between the ones mattering all the time, and the ones mattering before combat damage. Lifelink, for example, will matter before combat damage. If you get Lifelink after all your creatures have already done damage, it’s useless. Untapping all of them though, will be used only if you have attacked with some already.

kerathanbarbarianKerathan Barbarian.
This little dude – I’m guessing a barbarian might not like me calling him that – combines the combo mechanic with the heroic one, from Theros.

Heroic dealing 2 damages to a player could actually trigger combo 2. But that’s not relevant, because combo 2 will be easy to activate by simply attacking with two creatures, and it will deal an extra damage. I like that the effect is limited, but it’s still too easy to have for almost free every turn.

I also realized I kept tacking good abilities on solid creatures, which gets too strong in the long run.

preemptive blastPreemptive Blast.
Now for some combo enablers, – even though like we have seen I might have made combo a little too easy to use already – here is a combat trick.

2 direct damage can enable some welcome pre-combat combo triggers, and it also enables heroic, giving one creature first strike. First strike as we’ll discuss later is also good for combo.

All this for same price as a shock! Kerathan Barbarian would love it. It had to be sorcery. Not too sure about the flavor by the way, but it was focused on the pre-combat combo idea.

patientflamePatient-Flame Disciple.

This monk is actually also a combo enabler. It starts as a Gray Ogre,- the legendary name for 2/2 for 3 – but can become a 2/4 vigilance for a turn when you pay a red and a white.

That’s already quite good like this but wait, there’s more: when you activate him, – and you can only once during your turn – Patient-Flame Disciple will deal one damage to a player.
Damages are good, and so are pre-combat combo modifiers.

bazoo
Bazoo, Lightning Blade
.
This one is the first time I make a card representing a friend using a professional illustration.

Bazoo illustrates perfectly the idea that pre-combat combo triggers can be important, and also the fact that first strike will help you get there. With combo 2, he gets double strike.

What this means, is that if you already have combo 1 by the time this soldier strikes, you will get combo 2 and he will strike again!

Combo was too powerful during play-test, which probably came from the fact combo was too easy to trigger. One thing we can do is ask ourselves: how many creatures will likely attack? The Battalion mechanic taught us that we can ask a Boros player to attack with 3 creatures.
Another question is do we really want to let direct damage add to the combo meter? I would have loved to answer this question with the affirmative, but I’m afraid it helps combo get out of control. This is sad, because incrementing the combo meter is a very fun design space for spells and abilities.

Another idea! Be careful about combo abilities that don’t care about when they happen, like dealing damage. If you can just wait until then end of the turn, even let you creatures die, and still have combo 3 or 4 and deal “free” damage that way, it might be too easy.
One last idea could be to get the combo requirement to be higher, but somewhat I feel that inevitability is more the issue here, rather than how easy it is to get combo counters.

quicksilverThis has been a very busy article, but I can’t bring myself to leave you on two paragraphs of deep analysis, so here is Quicksilver Blade.

First strike and a preemptive damage when attacking, that’s combo 2 here for you! This turned out to be very nice in this deck, as you can imagine by now. Great to see an equipment too, those are always very flavorful.

All in all, Boros was my favorite design, albeit quite a bit over-powered. It has some very exciting, aggressive and beautiful cards, I might show you some more in the future!

I hope you enjoyed the lengthy article, I’ll be talking to you again soon. Have a great week!

Breaking Bestow

Hey friends! Turns out I’m still not ready to give you that article about black spells that I promised, but it will come in time! I have a couple interesting things to show though, with a slightly different spin than usual. The first one starts with this design that might make you scream “broken!”.

1397572682Nyxborn Elephant Guide. Isn’t it cute? It’s actually a very good looking card, but it’s just too powerful. To begin with, the lower it gets is a 3/3 for 3, with the small disadvantage to be an enchant.

But with bestow for 3, this pachyderm is just busted. Imagine: pay 3, give +3/+3 to a creature for good, that’s already amazing. Then if the creature dies, you get a 3/3 for free? That’s not reasonable.

And with bestow, the biggest risk you take it to get your creature removed in answer, and it will still net you a 3/3. So what made me think of this design?

ImageThis guy! Elephant Guide, as subtly hinted at in my own design’s name, was the inspiration for it. If you are familiar with the Cube format, you might know this card. It is pretty great. You still basically get both +3/+3 and a 3/3 for the low-low cost of 2 and a green.

It is, when you think of it, very close to his Nyxborn cousin. Now what is the difference and how much does it matter? Apart from nitpicking with “the token in Elephant Guide won’t be an enchant”, the only functional difference is the fizzle rule exception for bestow.

In case you didn’t know yet, if you make the target of a bestow ability illegal by the time your bestow card resolves, by killing or bouncing the creature you were bestowing upon for example, the bestow card will still resolve as a creature. You probably know that it’s not true for another regular enchant. Kill the target of an Elephant Guide in response to casting it, it will get countered and nothing happens. Kill the target of Nyxborn Elephant Guide, you will get a 3/3 for 3! Good times.

Now that you know the difference, either you will understand me or you will believe me, it is very important! Of course, you want a guarantied 3/3 over nothing. That’s called inevitability, and I like it. But also if that was the case the card would be way too powerful. Anyways, it was still fun to make it 🙂 Judging by Nylea’s Emissary, I could see Nyxborn Elephant Guide cost 4 to cast and 5 to bestow, and it would still be a bit powerful that way.

mm232_primordials

Remember those guys? Well I’m finishing that cycle too this week! So how may I finish a cycle that is already made of 5 cards? By making a gold card of course!

1397607687Pentacle Primordial. First let it be said, it’s scary. Second it costs 7 and is an Avatar, just like the other primordials.

Then comes the ability. Primordials all have an ability that starts with “for each opponent”. Well our demonic primordial will allow you to control each of your opponents for a turn! Isn’t that exciting?

SPOILER ALERT: The upcoming edition Journey Into Nyx contains a card with the same effect! It’s called Worst Fears, and I think we can agree it’s a well deserved name.

Now I’ll let you know that Sylvan Primordial has been banned in commander. Commander being a casual format mostly, the ban isn’t fully official as far as I know, but one could imagine Pentacle Primordial being hit by the ban hammer for similar reason. What reason again? Well people in commander tend to take a Sylvan Primordial, “blink” it – make it leave the battle field and come back again, with for example Cloudshift – and destroy everybody’s permanents, making the whole table scream in rage.

Now something amusing happened while I was writing about closing the primordial cycle. I realized I could also make an artifact! So without further ado, let me introduce the 7th primordial:

1397610389Steelborn Primordial. This one was a little tricky. Artifact doesn’t have the same kind of strong identity that colors in magic do. Can you tell me of an effect that’s typically colorless? What about an everygreen ability? Defender? It would be a little boring to make a big primordial that cannot attack.

So I figured our artifact primordial would rely entirely on being big. For each opponent, he will give you a 3/3 golem, which happens to be one of the things artifacts like to do. It may sound a bit underwhelming, but you are getting a minimum of 7/9 for 7, so no need to be too demanding!

This was fun. I like digging into the reasons behind creations, keeping in mind a bigger picture than the design of a single card helps to keep it solid. It can even make it easier, as magic as a whole is coherent and flows naturally like for this last primordial. Do you think it misses a little something to make it spicier? Tell me if you find out what!

Either way, have a good one and see you next time!

Return to Return to Ravnica

Hey y’all,

These days I’m working hard on my edition (you should see my spreadsheet, it’s wild) and my app (currently blocked trying to setup google play achievements, boo), so I wanted to put a little something out there. I recently found some designs I made I believe right before Dragon’s Maze was out. If you are not familiar with the Return To Ravnica block, boy have you missed out! It was a masterful block that I had the most fun playing in limited. It’s not so far in the past, you should really check it out!

Since the backbone of the Ravnica plane is the 10 bi-colored guilds, I wanted to make cards that would embody two or three guilds, through the three color combination that corresponded to them. Today I’m going to show you the first whole 5 cards that were created in that effort! Next 5 to come next week. Sorry about the lack of images (and probably wording and design mistakes), I didn’t take that much time making this whole set. I also won’t spend too long on each card, don’t want to make this a huge post. If you don’t know the guild, again, check out the Return to Ravnica block! This will be fun, let’s check it out!

Undercover_shred-freak_by_Undercover shread-freak. Radkos/Boros. Could be crazier. 2/2 haste for 3 colors when unleashed is underwhelming, and giving all unleashed creatures +1/+1 with Battalion only goes so far. Fun design though.

Allied guild: Orzhov.

 

 

 

 

Nature's_Revenge_by_

Nature’s Revenge. Boros/Selesnya. Tamed down Assemble the Legion with a built in “free” Overrun. Fun fun. Maybe a little too expensive to be very good, but good design as well.

Allied guild: Gruul.

 

 

 

 

Industrial_Espionage_by_

Industrial Espionage. Izzet/Dimir.  One of the only non creature spells I created in that series (see other one(s) next week). Probably pretty bad though. Originally most of the Cipher cards had little success in both limited and constructed, and this might be one of the clunkiest ever. I do like the flavor and creativity of it but that’s about it.

Very high cost for a card that won’t have that many targets in limited, unless you are going all in on spell, which is dangerous.

Allied guild: Rakdos.

 

Great_Pontiff_Censor_by_Great Pontiff Censor. Azorius/Orzhov. Another very interesting design with bad power/cost balance. Playing a 1/5 for 5 and 3 colors is terrible, even if we’re getting to the very defensive end of the spectrum. Getting a detain when you play other creatures is largely not enough, especially since you could just be playing detain creatures.

Maybe make it a 2/5 for 4? Needs rework.

Allied guild: Dimir.

 

Experimental_Aberration_by_

Experimental Aberration. Simic/Izzet. This might actually be too powerful! 2/3 evolve for 3, even though in 3 colors, is already quite reasonable.

The ability though, makes it a very scary engine! No matter what you play along, it gets even bigger! It loves removal, burn spells… Giant growth makes it a 6/7, and Enlarge makes it… Oh my god it’s horrible!!! Want to burn it or pump against it? Well if there’s counter-magic that won’t turn out fun for you. Maybe make it a 2/2 for 4?

Allied guild: Gruul.

How was that? I reckon those designs are better on the creative than the development side, because of course that’s the most fun part. I hope you are looking forward to see the other 5 ones, because I kept the best for the end! 🙂

See you next week!

I designed my girlfriend

Hey all, it’s been a while. I have missed a post and a half so far, I think; I’ve been away to a wedding in Canadia last weekend, and I’ve been working a lot this month and even more in the past two weeks, but sorry for the delay either way.

Picking new cards from 10 years ago and re-making them would take me too long this week as well, so I decided to have an interlude, and present to you a design I made around 7 months ago, as a goofy treat for my girlfriend, who plays magic as well. It’s a fun one, but it’s a little broken so we’ll need to fix it. As you read, try and figure out what actual card from Gatecrash is very similar to this one. The funny story is that even though I did know Gatecrash, I completely missed that card. So in all fairness, I came up with a design that’s reminiscent (yet not as good) that what the folks at wizards came up with, and that makes me happy. Let’s see it.

createcard (8)Tanisha, relentless (we all like a bit of teasing) is a neat idea. Bloodrush (by the way I have a real hard time figuring out the flavor of this ability) goes along with deathtouch very nicely, and what better in green than a serpent for this ability. By now if you do know it you have figure that this design is very similar to Wasteland Viper, a very tasty one drop, which proves I didn’t copy it, cause I can assure you I wouldn’t settle for such little creativity. It’s so similar to my design!

Image (2)

 

 

On one side I think regenerate on top of deathtouch is ok for bloodrush. Since the ability is instant speed, you usually have a good shot at making sure your creature survives, same as with Wasteland Viper. But deathtouch on top of regenerate for a creature is not ok. Way to powerful! I’ve tasted Maze Abomination in combination with Trestle Troll or Mortus Strider and I can tell you it is very very good. In fact there is no creature with both abilities, the same way very few creatures have first strike and death touch. What should we do to fix our design then? If we remove regenerate completely it’ll be too close from the viper, and our design is Gruul so it should have a little extra power to it. One the other hand I don’t want to break the symmetry of the creature’s abilities and the ones its bloodrush grants.

I realized another weakness of this design in the fact that both deathtouch and regenerate are keywords associated to green creatures. I thought for a long while about what I could grant a red creature that wouldn’t be broken with deathtouch, as first strike, double strike and trample are, and would be useful with bloodrush, as haste isn’t. Then I came up with an ability that is becoming more and more important in magic, so much that I could imagine it becoming a keyword some day: can’t be blocked by less than two creatures! It comes with all sorts of number of creatures though, which doesn’t help making it a keyword I guess.

createcard (9)What about the cost then? Let’s keep one thing in mind: forcing the defending player to block a deathtouch creature with several of theirs is still very powerful. This is why I’ll keep Tanisha a 1/1. On her own she’ll still be a 1/1 deathtouch, that the opponent needs to pitch two creatures against. Best part is you’ll get to pick which one dies. Its’ bloodrush will only be better than the Wasteland Viper’s in the case where you want to give one of your creatures some kind of evasion. I don’t think it’s all that different form giving a creature +3/+2 for example though, it’s likely to kill two blockers. This time it’ll work giving +1/+1 to a 1/1 though!

 

I’m pretty fond of this version. It’s a little complicated but it should be fun to play! I’ll try and be back to the main Skies of Arcadia theme last week though. Stay tuned!