The Melding

Hi everybody! Welcome to this episode 161 of Ominous Designs, prepared by yours truly a whooping 4 days in advance, as I’m traveling this week. This shouldn’t have much impact on the article though as long as the cards are here!

For this one I decided to try and meld creatures together, Innistrad style, except we won’t be using the actual meld mechanic but rather straight up add everything about the two creatures into a single one. We even have a bonus design this week, so how about we just get started.

eathercrafter-mageEathercrafter Mage can’t spell aether properly.

Do not hold it against her, instead take a second to see that she is the daughter of Snapcaster Mage and Trinket Mage – yay same sex marriage – so it’s only fair she would be a mage as well.

The main reasons I merged the two is that I could, and by that I mean I think the power level is fine. On the other hand there isn’t a particular synergy to it, and in fact there is even tension in having to pay for a spell after you cast a 5 mana creature. In a control deck it’s possible though, and either way you received an artifact for your trouble!

pyromancer-devilPyromancer Devil

What about this one? A cross breed of Hellrider and Young Pyromancer. Let’s say it was an experiment gone wrong.

One might think that the Hellrider ability is too good when combined with the token making skills of Pyromancer and coming with a bigger body. I would say it isn’t quite the case as both of those abilities work much better early in games. In that sense, slowing down the card is what saves it from its power level, even though it is still an interesting engine albeit for more casual environments.

seasoned-thundermancerSeasoned Thundermancer

After making what I knew were durdly cards, I wanted to illustrate that if I simply staple together two efficient creatures, a scary monster would arise.

So I did, with the previous mentioned Snapcaster Mage and Young Pyromancer. While the result does impress, I am actually not sure it would be outlandishly good, for the same reasons I presented earlier: both original creatures strive on being cheap and coming in early. That being said 4 mana isn’t all that expensive either so I do think Thundermancer would be very powerful.

That will be it for the week! It is more fun than I expected to merely squeeze cards together. I am very likely to revisit that idea some time. Let me know if you enjoyed them too, what you think about their strengths and weaknesses and maybe which creatures you would like to see assembled!

I shall see you next week for episode 162, until then have a great week and play responsibly!

I X U

Hello everybody, I am happy to have you for episode 155 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to review another couple of designs from my personal vault, both of which happen to cost 1 generic mana, 1 blue, and one of another color of mana – hence the title. Let’s start with red and an izzet instant.

multiply-angles Multiply Angles

This one is similar to something I did a couple of weeks ago, and its main goal is to finally bring us a spell that could copy either a creature or an instant or sorcery. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it has been done before!

I did want to keep the spell cheap, and I also had in mind a particular way I could make both sides of the spell weaker, with a Phantasmal Image downside or the ability for your opponent to counter the spell. It makes for an interesting and flexible package overall, but hard to evaluate without play.

jara-azorius-representativeJara, Azorius Representative
This one started with hearing someone complain about Dovin Baan. I set out to create my own cheap Azorius planeswalker, and it came quickly clear that I wanted an ultimate that would mirror Sphinx’s Revelation and a minus ability that would detain.

3 might actually be a little cheap, especially since the plus ability technically could protect it as well. It might be the case that Jara should come into play with 2 loyalty counters or cost 4, I just wanted to push the sphinx a bit. I also wish I found an illustration for Isperia – Azorius guildmaster – that would work here.

That is all for the day! As usual I hope you enjoy the designs and I invite you to provide feedback on the social outlet of your preference. I will be off now and until next week for episode 156.

See you then, and play responsibly!

If This Then That

Another computer science pun! The video for this article is called “Switches” (link here) and it also hints at today’s designs are checking for some information in order to have different effects, somewhat like programming languages work. Fascinating, isn’t it?

volarian-wildernessVolarian Wilderness

Volarian Wilderness will ask that you reveal the top card of your library at every upkeep, reward you with a token based on the card you revealed.

About a third of your deck – lands – will get you a 1/1 insect, while the rest will either give you a 3/3 beast or a 6/6 wurm, based on how many high mana cost cards you have put in your sixty – or fourty, or one-hundred? – cards.

I feel the card is somewhat similar to Primeval Bounty and it’s hard to tell if it is better or worse.

aethercasterAethercaster
This one is quite a bit weirder. Activate the golem and what you will get is a copy of either a spell or a creature.

The price is quite high – 5 mana in two colors – but it has potential to have some devastating effect! The way I see it, even getting a “free” spell should be kept in check by having to pay 3 for a creature and 5 for an activation. I could be horribly wrong though, so do let me know if that’s the case!

To me, the ability reads like a “draw a card” that has you cast the card for a nominative fee.

What do you think about the cards of the day? I find them interesting. The enchantment might be tweaked but it’s the gold that has the biggest potential for ridiculousness. So hopefully I didn’t go too wrong with it. You tell me!

Now’s time to say goodbye and see you next week though. Play responsibly!

 

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!

Ur League

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 140 of Ominous Designs. Today we will be looking at two cards for the blue-red Izzet League. Surprisingly for such guild, the designs are mostly clean, simple and straightforward. So Let’s just get a look at them then, shall we?

HypnotizeHypnotize.
I am having a hard time believing this name has not been on a card yet! The effect is also quite intuitive, a Threaten for two turns.
Planeswalkers in recent past have introduced the concept of effects that last for your whole turn and your opponent’s as well. I think this opens a great design space that could show up on regular cards, and makes a card such as Threaten much better in defense.

Now you can steal your opponent’s biggest creature and either attack or block the rest of their creatures with it next turn!

Manacoil WeirdManacoil weird.

There are strangely few effects out there that just add one damage or one extra card to other spells and abilities. Those usually double numbers instead, and as a consequence are usually printed on mythic rares. Our weird friend here will do just that, at a lower rarity.

One extra damage everywhere is obviously very good, but it’s not Gisela good. An extra card when you draw a card is alright as well but requires some extra work from you, and this one will not compound with Howling Mine effects.

And those are your two new members of the Ravnica Engineers Association, a.k.a the Izzet League. Hope you enjoyed, I find that those two are clean and mostly well-balanced but I could be convinced to tweak the creature. Do let me know if you have feedback either way.

Now is time to say goodbye though, so see you next week and until then play responsibly!

Shiny Things

Hello everybody, welcome to episode number 135 of Ominous Designs. Today I have two very different cards that have one thing in common: they are gold.

Keeper of ThornsFirst Keeper of Thorns.

I danced around this one for a while. The idea was to enable a Mana dork to produce up to two mana every turn, of different colors and for one life each.
I toyed with the untap symbol but it was too hard to make not broken, as untapping for mana isn’t a good idea.
I also tried to separate abilities with a “only once a turn as a sorcery” writer but that was too messy.

I’ve been very split on the power level of this card but I think Joraga Treespeaker tells us it is ok, possibly even at uncommon.

Xeral Betrayal IncarnateAnd now a huge three-colored Demon Wizard: I present to you Xeral, Betrayal Incarnate.

The main idea was to punish players for stealing permanents but I figured such a narrow ability should come with the second one.

I came up with the idea of exchanging creatures. Xeral now has a lot of potential, especially in multiplayer and it also comes with the danger of hurting yourself, has all demons should. I usually try to stay away from huge Timmy designs but I find myself wishing I could try that one out in a game of Commander. It looks like a ton of fun.

And that’s it for the day! This time I was hoping to have an easier time implementing my creative concepts than is ultimately turned out. It wasn’t so bad though and I’m ok with the results. I hope you enjoyed and that I will get good feedback on tweaking and balancing them.

Now it’s time to say see you next week and have a great 4th of July weekend!

Spooky Things

Hey all! Welcome to Ominous Designs episode #120, available in video form here on youtube, as I’ll remind you until I manage to advertise properly on this website.

Today we are going to look at cards inspired by our imminent return to Innistrad, hence the spooky. Only one of them truly is but both are for certain related to the mechanics included in the upcoming edition. As such if you really want to be spoiler free, consider this your fair warning: I am using several concepts from Shadows over Innistrad. Let’s do this!

Kerathan PhasewalkerKerathan Phasewalker.

Well look at this sweet little wizard. Admittedly I have done a lot of copying and redirecting spells recently, but I wanted to make this last one as it was interacting nicely with the reprint of Madness.

I have checked that copy effects on creatures can cost all the way down to 2 manas, so I figured that for 3 and a card we should be safe. On the other hand I felt like pushing the envelope on stats in order to see if we could play him instant speed and have some fun. This makes for some very nice French Vanilla creature! Hope that’s ok.

Argus, Unhinged Detective // Argus, Tainted by the AbyssArgus Unhinged Detective

How could you not love the flavor and coolness factor on this one!? It features many – one might say too many and I would likely agree – mechanics from Innistrad. First it’s a cheap creature that lets you investigate every time you pay a madness cost – not sure yet about the wording for that. So far Argus is fun and all, but not too powerful. I’m not even sure that blue will be a color that plays with madness this time around, have to get back to you on that one. On the other hand though, if you do manage to get 3 clues, he will transform! Something tells me that it shouldn’t be too hard in the new limited format, perhaps even constructed.

As Argus, Tainted by the Abyss, our detective will let you cash in the clues you collected for a smaller price – including some blood of yours – and a greater reward: 4 cards! This is a fine pay-off but nothing completely crazy either. Sort of a Painful Truths on steroids, and you still have to work for the clues. Since we are talking about this, there is yet another ability to Argus! With Delirium – curtesy of Shadow over Innistrad – you will be rewarded an extra clue every time an opponent’s creature dies. That should help!

All in all I think Argus I possibly a tad too powerful and most likely too loaded with complex abilities, but I can’t help liking him – them? You will tell me what you think.

That wraps it up for the day. Give me all your comments and feedback on the usual social outlets, I’ll be waiting for them. Time to say see you next week and until then have a great time!

Doing Several Things

Hi everyone, it’s good to be back! Those holidays were long and eventful and I am now here to resume our little weekly habit. I am somewhat rushed today as per that other habit of mine – work – but I’ll do my best to entertain! We are going to get right down to it though, as today we are looking at Instants that do several things, and as it turns out they both contain the Izzet colors.

Ward Against AllFirst is Ward Against All.

The idea came to me that we could have counterspell and misdirection in the same card.
What prevents this card from being too powerful is that there aren’t that many opportunities to have two targets for both sides of the spell. Correct me if I’m wrong but I am not aware of Double Negative being a staple.

What I just realized though, is that the mere flexibility of doing either one effect might be very good. Do you think it’s too much for a 4 mana counterspell? My gut feel is that it’s not.

Master the ArtsMaster the Arts.

This one comes from the cute idea to have a tempo spell / combat trick / removal doing a little bit of an effect for each colors of the Jeskai clan.

For the low low price of RWB you will get to deal 2 damage, bounce and tap up to 3 respective targets. I think the main contention point here is to be able to remove a small creature and bounce another one for only three mana. On the top of my head I can only think of Far/Away or Silumgar’s Command doing that for at least one extra mana, but not three colors! Is that a deal breaker?

I would be interested in hearing your opinions on the power level for both cards so don’t hesitate to let me know on any outlet of your choosing – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. Now though, is time to get back to work, it’s like I never left!

I hope you are all doing as good as when I left, I will see you again next week for article #119. Have a great one!

 

Beam me up, Scotty

Hello again, hope you are all having a great week so far. I have to say I am pretty pleased with this whole “I thought I was going somewhere this week, but I ended up creating something slightly different” dynamic that seems to be happening more often that not. It makes it all feel more like an organic creative process.

I had a couple designs in mind for today, but the first one led to the creation of a brand new mechanic. In turns I saw the opportunity to bend my second design to showcase that mechanic some more. Today I am introducing to you the Izzet ability Teleport.

Bringer of Storm and FireBringer of Storm and Fire. Not that excited with the name but it’s ok. This one is an attempt to fix Shrieking Mogg which was pretty dysfunctional.
Introducing Teleport, an ability that will possibly be controversial as really it is an alternate casting cost with flash – as all abilities by default, but I opted to mention it in the reminder text.
Myself, I think it is good to have fundamentally trivial abilities with a keyword, as they offer a template for slightly more complex effects. See Monstrous and Renown.
Bringer works many ways. With open mana defensively or at the end of an opponent’s turn, during your turn, before or after attacking.

Kahu CommandoKahu Commando.

That one I had in mind for a while but I decided to bend slightly to make use of Teleport.
You can now use it as a 2/1 with Force Spike and some upside for 2UR! The new version is quite wordy but I think it gets there – maybe barely.

From this design you could go many ways. Do we want the Disrupters to counter only noncreature spells? Mane the cost to pay 2? Create the tokens every time you cast a spell?
Many ways to adapt this design but regardless I really like the idea of the disrupter tokens.

DisrupterBefore we finish, here is one of those pretty disrupter tokens. It might help you wrap your mind around the design.

And that wraps it up for the day! Like I said I think Teleport opens a great space for designs of cards you could cast at either sorcery or instant speed for different effects. I do believe red isn’t an ideal space for flash effects, but Izzet is.
I would love for it to be extended to all colors, much like Evoke, but keeping a creature you casted at instant speed doesn’t feel right across the board. If you guys have any idea what to do about that, do let me know!

Either way it is now time for me to wish you a great week, and I’ll be talking to you again next time! Have a good one.

Temporal Mastery

 

Hi friends. For this 96th article we are going to be looking at tempo strategies, as the title so subtly hinted at. To that effect I have created two creatures, you can see right here bellow.

Rethik PhasebladeRethik Phaseblade is our first agent of Tempo.

When looking for such effects, I figured shutting down combat tricks for a turn should be interesting, especially on a creature with haste. Looking further into it, since the ability will only affect the turn she comes into play, I preferred the simpler solution of shutting down all spells. If you cast her with flash, good on you for the granted Time Walk effect.

I had to look up Izzet creatures with haste and it seems just about none have high power. I guess blue can’t really have access to that.

Imposing SeakiteImposing Seakite.

Another creative way to look at tempo could be reducing enemy creatures’ power, thus enabling an attack. I did want to make a common creature so a repeatable effect seemed like a bad idea. In the end I went for another etb effect.

quick study of common 4/4 flyiers for 4 led me to believe I could pull off similar stats, which to me is more enticing than the 3/3 for 3UU I had to begin with.
I’m pretty happy with were I landed on that one. It seems limited playable and reasonable, but good.

Simple stuff, good stuff. It has been a while I want to refocus as often as possible on common cards and the limited format. The tough part is that when inspiration comes, it rarely brings low power or low impact effects, but rather splashy sophisticated ones. On the other hand common cards need to be deliberate designs, and they demand more work to come up with.

Seems like it’s still possible to pull those off though! I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.
I’ll see you next week for more. Have a good one!