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.

 

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This is getting // contrived

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 174 of Ominous Designs. This week we are going to look at another of the brand new mechanics from Amonkhet, the aptly named aftermath. Aftermath cards have a second half that can be cast only from the graveyard. This enables some great synergies and hilarious card names. Let’s see what we made for ourselves.

Bored to Tears

I case you didn’t know yet, this is how you are supposed to read the full name of an aftermath card: adding “to” between the two names.

Our instant(s) here makes for a simple yet fun cousin to Agony Warp. On one hand it will cost one more colorless mana to cast both ends but on the other you can always decide to cast those two sides separately, and quite often still as a surprise to your opponent if they aren’t tracking your graveyard perfectly. I do think the added flexibility completely justifies this card’s increased CMC.

Tearing to Shreds

I fell into the trap of trying to use “Tear” as a card name, then remembering that Wear and Tear already exists. I did not want to fully rethink the name and mechanic though, so Tearing it is!

Tearing is a simple sorcery speed Naturalize and Shreds quite obviously is what happens when you blow up artifacts. Your opponent is going to take a bunch of damage for having had artifacts in the first place! I think the effect is rather powerful, but I do not know if there would be a red and green deck in any eternal format to take advantage of it.

Those are your aftermath cards. Hope you enjoyed them, let me know your thoughts on the usual outlets and I’ll be sure to think on them and mention the best ones in our next episode.

Thanks for reading as usual, I’ll see you next time and until then have a great time and play responsibly!

Let’s Exert Ourselves

Hey everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs 170 where we feature a new mechanic from the upcoming block Amonkhet. The mechanic is called Exert and it means you can have an extra effect from your creature in exchange for it not untapping next turn. At the time of this article there is still only one exert creature spoilt in previews and it can exert when it attacks. I am going to use that but also a new way of getting your extra value in the following two cards.

Deep-Alaria Druid

Our elf druid here is featuring a new way to use exert indeed.

The idea would be to allow exert when using an ability. If you do so, you will get a second green pip from your mana dork. In exchange you won’t see it untap the turn after.

I think the idea is pretty strong though the balance isn’t too obvious. A two mana elf that enables you to get your 5th – or 6th if you had a 1 drop mana elf too – on turn 3 is pretty ridiculous.

Rethik Battle Scout

Battle Scout is pretty simple in its use of exert. Note that I did add an ability that lasts until your next turn, which is very new and mostly featured in Hope of Ghirapur so far.

If you commit to let your soldier not untap next turn, it will gain double strike in return for the sacrifice. What makes the card very interesting though is that you can make it not tap to attack for two white mana, rendering the downside of exert irrelevant! It’s a fun spin on exert, albeit going against the original idea.

That’s going to be it for the day! Hopefully we got your creative juices flowing in time for the new set that’s about to be previewed and released. As the preview cards featuring exert come out we will see how close we got from predicting its actual use!

I shall see you next week, wish you a great time and until then play responsibly!

Copycats

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 169 of Ominous Designs. Today we are looking at cards that create copies, hence the title.
Both designs are connected to a shard of mana and I think I can contain with special about them in their description so let’s just get started, shall we?

Aurashaper

Today’s theme comes from the intent of creating a clone in Bant colors. Without looking very hard for it I came up with the idea that a green and white clone should be able to clone enchants and lands. This might seem simplistic but I think it is quite esthetically pleasing.

Why is it so hard to clone lands though? I get the feeling that there is a specific reason but I can’t put my finger on it. Do tell me if you know. As for enchantments, there is probably a way to recur this with a reanimating aura, but I haven’t found it just yet.

Graveshaper

This handsome lady – actually a shapeshifter – shows what Grixis might do with clone technology. First it copies creatures from graveyard because black, then it can also copies artifacts because red. I know they both sound very powerful but I am yet to know why either would require more than 4 mana in 3 colors.

As for the blue part, I opted for copying an instant or sorcery from the graveyard as well. This comes in the form of a Goblin Dark-Dwellers ability.
All in all this one is a really powerful package.

And that will do it for now. As usual there are checks and balances to be made here but what we care about is the creative process of making magic cards, not nearly as much the play testing and balancing aspect of it, which we know takes a whole lot more time. Getting the inspiration going is what we are all about.

I hope this fulfilled our mission, I will meet you again next week for episode 170! Until then have a great time and play responsibly.

Little Buddies

Hey all, welcome to episode 167 of Ominous Designs. This week our theme is simple, we are going to look at 2 drops that bring something from a color and reinforce a typical ability from a second color. Rather than confuse you it is best we start by looking at our first card, and the origin of today’s topic:

Kerathan Battle Shaman

This shaman originated with the idea of giving you a free fight when you cheat creatures into play, as many green effects do.

Originally I figured I should add a mana producing clause because the first ability was so narrow, but since I have found several mechanics that apply. Flickering is one of them, though it would mean dipping into at least a third color, but evoke and suspend also would give you free fight effects fairly easily. Those two are to be monitored for power level, especially evoke. Should say nontoken too.

Lakegreed Oracle

I wanted to not overlap with the previous design so all three Esper colors where available to me. I picked drawing cards for blue, and -1/-1 for black.

I think getting one for free every turn, plus occasional small removal effects when you draw extra cards is acceptable. Oracle will be forced to target himself if there is nobody around which is leftover from when I was playing with -1/-0 and thought this was fine. It makes for an unfortunate yet possibly balanced side-effect now, so I am not too sorry I left it there. The card is still pretty powerful as it it.

That is going to be it for the day. I had a hard time balancing the cards today, they probably still need a fair amount of ironing out. As usual food for thoughts is always good though, and there has to be a least one way to balance any particular effect, virtually regardless of how strong or weak its base is.

I hope you enjoyed the cards, do let me know what you think about them and I’ll see you next time for episode 168. Until then, have a great week and play responsibly!

 

Making a Mess

Hello everybody! Welcome to episode 166 of Ominous Designs, were we make big cards for wacky casual games. I took both of those out of my vault, and this is probably as much introduction as you need! The two cards don’t have a ton in common so let’s just have a look at them.

begetter-of-singularityBegetter of Singularity

This one is definitely the bigger and messier of the two. What we have here is a huge Eldrazi creature that will exile everyone’s cards from their hands when cast, keep them all nice and warm under it.

What happens next will surprise you… Every turn, the massive 5/9 returns one of the cards at random to the active player. You are going to end up playing your opponents cards, which is always fun. I can tell people are going to complain that the effect is too symmetrical though, unfortunately I couldn’t fix that in few enough words to fit in there.

kerathan-war-axeKerathan War Axe

I wanted to create an equipment with multiple colored activated abilities. I very much did so here, making sure there is also an initial, static and colorless bonus of +2/+2 for all.

With Jund colored mana, the war axe temporarily gives the equipped creature deathtouch, first strike or trample, most combinations of which have deadly synergies. Keeping that in mind I decided to make the sword easier to cast but one more to equip than a sword, to prevent endless attacking and blocking with first strike and deathtouch.

That is all for the day! Hope you are excited as I am at the idea of testing those in a commander game. They should be a ton of fun.

Do let me know what you think and I will be sure to answer and maybe talk about it next week. Until then have a great time and play responsibly!

To The Moon

What’s up everybody! Welcome to Ominous Designs number 164, where we try to go to the Moon, a.k.a do what we we keep being told is impossible.This will manifest – an apt choice of words – in the form of instants and sorceries on the battlefield. Let’s get started because we have a big day in front of us.

dense-fog-bank Dense Fog Bank

As we can all see now, our new mechanic is called Personify. Impersonate is basically morph for instant and sorceries. Once on the board they will have to behave like manifest creatures, except you can cast them for their personify cost.
It can seem counter-intuitive at first, but just like with manifest you can indeed have face down instants and sorceries on the battlefield!

I will leave most of the power level examination for the next cards, but do notice that fob bank can turn into a bounce spell for two creatures when needed.

dense-sand-stormDense Sand Storm

The second design I had in mind for this brand new mechanic is including the classic Threaten effect.

One thing that we need to mention now is that I decided to let Personify be an instant speed mechanic. This makes choosing between the sorcery version and playing personify first a very interesting tactical dilemma. It has all the more impact here as we know instant speed threaten effects are prised, precious and powerful.
It also makes sand storm look very alike a recent card called Malevolent Whispers.

dense-bog-fumesDense Bog Fumes

We are on a roll! It is hard to not come with a million designs that could use our new mechanic.
This one is about the most straight forward you could create as its poster child for black magic.

5 mana for a sorcery speed removal is an acceptable rate in nowadays limited format, though in recent history they did get slightly cheaper. 4 mana for an instant speed version though, that is great and worth investing in personify. Nothing unheard of though, as examplified by the recent printing of Oblivion Strike, an excellent removal.


dense-jungle-thicketDense Jungle Thicket

One more? Sure, why not. I am attracted to the idea of having a narrow enchantment and artifact removal useful as a creature when it doesn’t have any target, and at the same time its cheapest possible version and still instant speed.

I think even vintage might consider paying two for its disenchant effect if it comes with the possibility of using it before its time as a creature, then have it actually be cheaper and faster. I am not sure of that though, as a 2/2 for three scarcely finds its way into a vintage curve.

Fun? I do think so. I will leave you with an example of what our reminder token for personify could look like. It makes me quite excited at the idea of trying out the cards.

personificationThat will be the end of this extra long article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Let me know what you think of the mechanic and other designs that might use it.

I shall see you next week, until then have a great time and play responsibly!