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!

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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!

 

Fusion

Hello everybody! Welcome to Ominous Designs episode 157. Today we are making some fuse cards. I am going to keep the design that inspired me with this theme for the end, so that we can start with an uncommon and then do a rare. Shall we get started?

lockLock // Key

Incidentally, I made my second design based on names that I found on some wikipedia entry. – siamese twins names, a very useful one – It is also my favourite design of the week. It is simple, elegant and probably well balanced as well as powerful!
There isn’t too much to say about it, except I did consider using the detain mechanic because it and fuse are both native to the plane of Ravnica. But since Lock is meant to be a tempo play, I wasn’t too fond of having it last two players’ turns. By tuning its power level a bit that way, I could also make sure that 3 mana would be reasonable for the two effects, making it much closer to Artful Dodge than you might think, though it does have the upside of a possible use defensively. – albeit not to the greatest effect –
Like I said I quite like the card, so I hope you do too!

aliveAlive // Kicking

The concept of putting a creature into play and having the possibility of making it fight was in my vault for quite some time. I didn’t know it would turn into a fuse card but it is quite fitting now. The tricky part was to balance it.
On one hand Alive is just about a reprint of Dramatic Entrance, and on the other Kicking is even closer to Pit Fight. I lean on the fact that both of those original cards are good but I hope not so good that they can’t be put together if I throw in two very slight mana downsides. I am not aware of Dramatic Entrance being used outside of commander and Pit Fight outside of Limited, so my take is that I have made Alive // Kicking slightly better than those two in their respective formats, which might just be fine.
Some time this morning, – I believe it was one of those shower thoughts – I realized that Alive was already the name for an existing fuse card, half of Alive // Well. What can you do… I’m sure there is another name out there for our design.

It’s been fun making fuse cards! Give me your thoughts on those, I think the rare is acceptable and I am rather excited with Lock // Key.

Evil Sparks

Hello everybody, today I welcome you to an episode of Ominous Designs nice and divisible by 5: here comes number 145! Our big 150 is approaching fast. I set out for quite the topic this week and might even have bitten more than I could chew, though looking at the results I am not too ashamed with what we ended up with. What topic, you might ask? Sparker Villains! Starting with the one who inspired me with that theme, and Magic’s biggest archenemy, Nicol Bolas.

bolas-rising-menace

Bolas, Rising Menace // Nicol Bolas, Planar Tyrant

A tall order, isn’t it. Bolas is quite the legendary foe. I almost immediately decided that he needed to flip based on controlling an opponent’s permanent, to refer to the elder dragon’s favourite hobby: manipulating people. This allowed me to pack a little bit more power in the card since the condition is quite narrow and that was a good thing since I didn’t want to have the card cost a million, or be more powerful that the previous incarnation of the planeswalker.
I wanted Bolas to be big, somewhat impactful, but not a 6 drop either since the card was only his origin story. This lead me to create a 4 drop flyer with upside, which seemed reasonable. For the planeswalker abilities I figured that doing something with stolen permanents could be fun and this would demonstrate the black aspect of Bolas, as well as his contempt for the tools – people – he uses to his own means. The abilities need more work but I like the direction I took, if only as a base.
I doubled down on the controlling aspect with an ultimate allowing you to steal something every turn. I think it is realistic, yet obviously quite powerful.

xenagos-satyr-hedonist

Xenagos, Satyr Hedonist // Xenagos, Multiverse Explorer

Xenagos is our second evil sparker! I figured he would keep his “thirst for mana” style. This was achieved my making him a fairly reasonable mana maker, and requiring 6 mana to transform.
His first ability also is that of old school Orcish Lumberjack fame, still in the mindset of abundance without a thought for the consequences. Xenagos 0 ability was not the most inspired, but I figured it would be nice if he could still bring more people – satyrs – to his party. I switched haste for trample to change something from the original incarnation, as well as make the card slightly less powerful.
I am happy with the ultimate, a one sided Heartbeat of Spring which sounds fun, and hopefully had not been made before. I now realize that plays with Xenagos might sequence a little too well, landing on turn 3, making 2 mana on his own AND using his + ability the turn he flips, allowing to -5 on the next one. Then again, the ultimate isn’t all that powerful so maybe we are fine.

Like I said earlier I didn’t get as much time as I wanted to balance those but honestly for planeswalker we are probably talking hours of work and as many of play testing, so I think for a concept piece the two are pretty fine and fun looking Do let me know your ideas about modifying and balancing them.

That will be it for today’s article, looking forward to seeing you all again next week for numero 14. 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!

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!

 

New Legends

Hello everybody, and welcome to episode 137 of Ominous Designs. The topic for today came to me while browsing /r/custommagic. What we are going to do is create legendary creatures for subtypes that never had one. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be a pegasus and a wurm.

Pelianos Mount of the GodsPelianos, Mount of the Gods. Didn’t think how close the name was from Paliano – main city in Conspiracy – at the time…
It seemed pretty obvious that the pegasus should serve as a mount to other legendary creatures.
I toyed with the idea of implementing this myself but in the end nothing serves this purpose as well as bestow does.
I based the design on the better version of limited all star Nimbus Naiad. I needed to make the legendary creature better so costed it more aggressively, seeing that its extra ability was a fringe one: the faithful companion is ready sacrifice himself to save his legendary friends.

Talath Volarian SovereinTalath, Volarian Soverein.
This one was harder to come up with. Wurms are not your typical sentient and charismatic legendary creatures! I also hoped to make it a Naya creature so it could serve as a commander for a deck containing most existing wurms. After playing around with the idea of a big creature with activated abilities granting keywords from various colors, I discovered I could afford up to 6 of them as long as I picked them well.

So this guy does have a ton but I don’t even think he is more threatening then Soul of Theros or Akroma. In the end he looks like a Naya Cromat.

Those are your – legendary – creatures for the day. Let me know if you think of some other types that need a hero to represent them.
I hope you all have a great time, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!