Planswalker Corner

Hello everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs episode 126. I had to improvise a recording on Monday night again, and it turned out to be the most catastrophic of all episodes! You can check out the video and see by yourself, though fortunately not all the issues I encountered ended up on this week’s episode.

I do have a theme for today – as ever so subtly evoked in the title – and that theme is Planeswalkers.

Kal Guardian of the SparkKal, Guardian of the Spark.

After I came up with the theme, I quickly thought of doing something similar to Sylvan Advocate.
I immediately fell in love with the idea, even though there just aren’t that many planeswalker that can turn into creatures.
In addition to them being red and white, – namely Gideon and Sarkhan – I felt they could potentially be green in the future, hence Kal’s colors. I also think that the ability itself feels green.

Worth noting too, I decivded a base of 4/4 with Trample is acceptable for a legendary 3 color card.

Keht Void IncarnateKeht, Void Incarnate.
Here is our weirdest card of the day, possibly week, month and year. I wanted to make a Planeswalker with a bunch of zeros and found the execution of that to be extremely challenging. The result is a less than satisfying card, but some interesting things to think about.

It is hard making a “minus” ability with a cost of 0, as you can’t bound its power. This turns Keht into a 4 mana unconditional removal that might stick around, which is already very strong.
The “ultimate” is the same deal: hard to define and to balance, ultimately cute but mostly functional.

As I said, our cards today are the byproducts of urgency and how little time I had for the article. The “zero themed” planeswalker was definitely something I would have to work hard and a long time on to make work. The result is definitely lacking, but in a way I am happy with how far we got in a relatively short time.

This weeks designs are still definitely worth considering and thinking about, so I hope you enjoyed them for what they are. Now is time to say see you next week, and have a good one!

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Planeswalker Appreciation Week

Hey all! Welcome to Ominous Designs episode 119, as per – recent – usual available on Youtube for your viewing pleasure. This week we are going to play around Planeswalkers, which should definitely be an enjoyable ride. Wanna get started?

Watchful FamiliarOur first card is Watchful Familiar, and it features the new mechanic Disciple.

As you can see Disciple cares about you controlling a planeswalker at your upkeep. I opted for that particular template so that I could open the mechanic to multiple types of triggers, – such as dealing damage, draw cards, any type of effect really, but this also means that the toughness boost here will have to be until end of turn, each turn.

A 2/2 flying vigilance that turns into a 2/4 and gains you life a turn sounds exiting for 3, isn’t it?

Domesticated WurmDedicated Wurm.

Wurms are out of fashion but I am actually a huge fan of them. I even have a small collection I brought back from home after my last holidays!

This one is very powerful and if you do control a plainswalker – notably not the most frequent thing to have happen in those colors – you will get an even bigger pet, as it will virtually be a 6/5 trampler thanks to the free damage. At the very least it will actually be a 5/5, which isn’t too shabby.

For some reason I really like it! Hope you do too.

And now for a little bonus, I present to you Tibalt, Nephalian Outcast.

Tibalt Nephalian Outcast

Isn’t he pretty? If I learned one thing from making that card, it’s that double face planeswalkers are truly hard to balance. One thing I really wanted for him is to be as close as possible to a sorcery speed Terminate with ‘planeswalker upside”. This is what we achieve with the first -2. Both +1 are mostly kind of cute and such is the -3 on the flip side, and there is a reason with that. If a 2 drop planeswalker isn’t actively bad, – see original Tibalt – it really needs to be kept in check in terms of power level. Turn two is so early to drop a planeswalker that actually does something, legacy would have so much fun dropping it on turn 1…

For the 0 ability, the one that transforms Tibalt, I was into the idea of having it be the same on both sides, in great part for simplicity reasons. Now getting a -1/-1 counter every turn on a 2 loyalty planeswalker, is that too much? I’m having a hard time telling but it think it might be.

It was a good week, wasn’t it? Hope you enjoyed the designs. One thing is sure though, it took me a while to make the live episode! That was also because I came in with little to no idea about the cards I would make, but if you enjoy almost an hour of card making you’ll get a treat this week. Either way, let me know what you think about those, I will talk to you again in seven days. Have a good one!

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!

Nayan Gold

Hi all. Good old last minute article this week, but this time with a twist! After getting a couple of designs out from my vault to make into cards, I found a theme, which brought us to a bonus third one. Ready to see all of them?

Rethik Combat TrainerRethik Combat Trainer I meant to make into a card for a while. I wanted a creature that enables all your guys to start fighting on demand, and RCT does just that.

Well, not only. First, I thought it would be reasonable to balance it with a +1/-1 clause for a more recklessly aggressive effect.

Secondly, I figured I might want something a little splashier for the trainer himself so I gave him the over costed “shotgun” ability you can see there. Does he seem fun to you? What about the power balance?

Aevis Guardian of the CitadelAevis, Guardian of the Citadel. Here is a pretty legendary creature now. And by pretty I really mean badass.

For a while I wanted to make a card similar to Gaddock Teeg, helping small creatures and hindering bigger ones. I figured basing it on power and toughness then modifying those would be a nightmare, so I went for converted mana cost instead.
Fun story, I thought of making her a sweet token helper, as Selesnya doesn’t really have that, but I ended up removing the ability when I opted for a good and cheap body.

Kerathan WarlordAnd now for our bonus round: Kerathan Warlord.

When I discovered this week’s theme would be Naya two color combinations, I quickly came up with a simple and beefy design for the Gruul clan.

Our warlord is big, and she hits hard. 6/6 trample for 5 isn’t too shabby but not too crazy either, especially considering our friend Sagu Mauler.

The deathtouch part I mostly added because the design still felt a little too vanilla for my liking but I could easily see removing it. What do you think, is it a case of “less is more”?

That wraps it up for today! Fun times as usual, gold cards are pretty aren’t they? The more I make designs, the more I want to create more good commons and uncommons but today was a fine escape from that – not that I have been following my new common new diet too strictly recently anyways.

I hope you enjoyed them, let me know what you think over here or on facebook, twitter, Imgur or reddit. Time for me to say see you next time, and have a great week!

Mana Mana Mana

…Batman? Nevermind. As it turns out there was another subject I haven’t dealt with this year, and not that much since the beginning of this blog either: it’s making mana. At large, mana producing isn’t the biggest space in magic cards design – you don’t want to get too fancy with it and instead rely on good old basic lands – but it’s definitely an interesting area to explore.

Lucky you, this week you are getting an artifact – what we call a mana rock – and a full cycle of 10 two-color lands! Let’s check those out right away.

Eye of KerathAs you can see Eye of Kerath is the mana stone.

I was wondering what kind of card could be made, using for downside that producing mana of any color would let an opponent draw a card. I believe a free artifact might be it!

Now to keep this card in check, there are a couple things to look at: would the modern deck Affinity play it? What about Storm? Lastly, how does it impact Legacy? Commander?
I think we are mostly safe on all fronts, but just in case I wanted to experiment with making it legendary. I wonder why it was hardly ever done.

Citadel RuinsNw for the big cycle. Citadel Ruins is the first land I created.

My main idea was to make a cycle of dual lands with a color making you lose life, but the other one gaining you some back.

My biggest worry was that the downside wouldn’t be great enough, and soon that you would find yourself with a bunch of lands gaining you life every turn.

You are looking at my second iteration. It would still need work and testing, as we need a strong incentive to not just play 12 of those is every deck!

Do tell me what you think of those. Now I’ll be leaving you with the full cycle of those beautiful lands, hope you will enjoy them. It’s been tons of fun working on their flavor; I wasn’t really set to make a cycle but I could help myself in the end.

I’ll be talking to you next week, until then have a good one!

Cursed Crater

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Necropolis

Hexed Jungle Highfalls Castle Marsh Road Raging Peak Rethik Academy Rumination Pool Woods Edge Temple

Enabling the Broods

Being literal makes for interesting titles, I guess. Want to hear about how busy I am these days?… Right, so let’s get right to it then! What I meant by enabling the broods was that this week we are going to look at three cards that work well – hopefully – with the mechanics from three factions from Dragons of Tarkir, namely the broods of Silumgar, Kolaghan and Ojutai. I’m playing nice and saying the names this time but to be honest the broods are so close to the former Khans and their names are so equally complicated that I don’t think they will stick much at all.

Silumgar ShamblerSo our first card is Silumgar Shambler, and it is meant to enable Exploit. If you don’t know Exploit – check out those cards – it’s pretty simple: sacrifice a creature, get an effect. And what’s better for this than three expandable creatures? Very little, really.

Easy enough to see three creatures for 3 manas is a great deal, but I can’t imagine why it would be too good. Compared to something as simple as Hordeling Outburst or even Sprouting Thrinax it doesn’t seem so crazy, though I get that mana cost makes a difference. If anything being in the colors of exploit makes it that much better, then again same goes for Youthful Scholar.

Temur FlexerAnd now on to fancier designs! First is Temur Flexer.

Let’s be clear here. I don’t care how plausible the creature is, I just love the idea. A creature whose sole role is to enable Formidable? Sounds fun. A boasting warrior with 0 and only action to raise it all the way to 8, just to do nothing with it? Hilarious.

To be honest I think this might be an ok design! Of course it can be “broken”. But does a two card 8 damage combo with summoning sickness – Fling – make it not ok? Hardly. Show me something more broken and I will believe you!

Master of EchoesMaster of Echoes. Now that is the fanciest design of all!
In case you haven’t picked it up after reading the overly complicated text on this monk, it is meant to enable Ojutai’s favourite ability, Rebound.
The idea is that right after you play a rebound spell from exile, – the second time – it will stay exile for you to cast a third time, thanks to the master. Kinda like skipping rocks! Obviously this makes for a complicated mechanic, and possibly breakable, but as far as I can tell solid and elegant enough.
Note that I have no idea how I got so lucky on the illustration, it’s like Ugin is on that sweet picture!

Good stuff? I think so. Those designs are obviously a little ham fisted, as I really tried to push the respective mechanics, but all in all it worked out fine for us. The shambler’s design was a little flat, but the space explored by the two others was really interesting. They might need some fixing but I’m happy I came out with both.

I hope you enjoyed all of this, I’ll see you next week for some more! Have a good one.

 

Bear Claws

Hmm… Pastries. Hi everybody, welcome to our third clan article, this one is Temur! No big news this week, and I’m little pressed by time for a change, so why not just get started.

Udagan Bear WhispererUdagan, Bear Whisperer is our Temur Planeswalker.
As you can see, it can be used as a 4/4 for 4 which is in flavor in Temur even if not the most exciting.
Udagan’s ultimate is also transforming her into a yet bigger and badder Bear, which does seem a little more boring when combined with the -3 ability, but I think I would keep that one over the previous if I had to, I love to see my PW transform into a ferocious beast!
The thorny one is the +1, providing such a big ramp. I checked and it’s faster than Garruk or Xenagos, but I can’t tell if that makes it broken.

RRoam the Battlegroundsoam the Battlegrounds is my attempt of finding something that was missing in Khans.

It might have been missing for the reason that fetches weren’t that important, and it was actually more underwhelming that missing with Seek the Horizon and Map the Wastes, but I think this instant might still help the Temur Frontier nicely.

Instant speed Rampant Growth is already basically good enough, and the additional land with ferocious could be amazing, if you have already powered out an early ferocious creature and are looking to play a couple more fatties, Temur style…

Having a good time! I still am! I’m not fully sure I will keep on creating a Planeswalker for each clan but so far it’s been enjoyable so why stop. Those are hard to design though, I’m not sure I nailed any of them – actually I’m sure enough none was a complete home run. Maybe that’s all the more reasons to keep on making them!

Either way, now that Dragons of Tarkir is around the corner, I’m that much more assured that I should finish the cycle sooner than later, so I think you can look forward to either Mardu or Abzan next week. Good times either way, have a good one and see you next week!