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

Uncharted Territories

Hey all. I received a lot of great feedback about the Endless on /r/custommagic, turns out people are passionate about them! This week, after making my first design I decided we were going weird, push creativity to places cards aren’t going often or perhaps at all! It should be exciting. Here is said first design:

Kerathan PlagiaristKerathan Plagiarist. I have thought of such design before but I don’t think I ever made it. It turned out quite a bit less complicated to implement than I would have thought.
Definitely makes for a powerful card, especially if used with expensive abilities, bypassing paying for their activation.

For that though, there was already Illusionist’s Bracers which wasn’t a particularly popular card. The advantages here are that you are getting a creature, and can copy any ability being used which could be helpful to counter something your opponents are doing.

Ozynn DynacasterOzynn Dynacaster came out while trying to make a second design as weird as possible.
And weird it is! So much that I don’t think it could be printed. The issue as I see it is that you don’t want to be churning out through all your deck every time, in the hope of finding a spell that you might not even have. It’s like cascade, but worse.

The card is fun though! It doesn’t do damage, but casts a spell for free every time it “hits”. The second ability was added for obvious facilitative reasons. The other remaining question is whether or not it is ok to to Dynacaster be that weak when blocked, and just do no damage.

Elarian BlacksmithI needed more this week so I set out to make a last design, which came to me pretty easily. It is Elarian Blacksmith, and it literally makes weapons.

There really isn’t that much to say about this ability, except that it is a much unexplored space that I assume will be filled one day, but already contains one single design, that is Nahiri, the Lithomancer.

Making it easy to use might create complex board states and is possibly a tad too powerful. Iterating on development would tell us about that.

That’s it for this week! As usual I hope you enjoyed the designs and I’ll be seeing you in 7 days for more. I’m leaving you with this equipment token made specially for Elarian Blacksmith. Have a great week!

Elarian Steel

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!

Enabling Prowess

If you know anything about Tarkir, I dare you to not guess what clan we are going to talk about today. Jeskai and its masters of the way is the answer, obviously. We are going to give Jeskai Monks their first Planeswalker, which is actually the one that sparked this whole cycle, then focus on an enabler trick for the Prowess mechanic. Should be fun!

Xiu of the Dancing BladeXiu of the Dancing Blade is first. I could not pass the opportunity to make a card based on such a gorgeous illustration.

Xiu costs 4 in 3 colors, and as such gets a fairly strong +1 ability. Prowess Monks are strong, and could potentially help a whole lot in a control deck. Her -2 on the other hand is less powerfull, but enables Prowess. Getting your best spell back is great, but maybe not as good as having a spell-like ability instead, since you still have to pay for it.

Last but not least, her ultimate is almost an infinite flying crane technique! That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Burn from WithinBurn from Withing is our prowess enabler. In the Jeskai tradition, I wanted a cheap tempo spell, which isn’t the easiest to come by in red. Cantrip would be a little much to ask in red as well though, so I figured I was going to help a creature gets through this turn then give it rummaging, which would be close enough for the color.

I still needed something to make the card not boring, and this was the hardest part. At first the ferocious trigger was what prevented a creature from blocking, but you can’t really have a new target in a Ferocious trigger, or it would be weird. I ended up with this “gravy” ability, ok but not great.

I was on a bit of time crunch this time, but the results are fun enough. I would definitely work more on the sorcery card if I had more time, I do think there’s potential there.

Before I leave you, I want to show off that I won a little ongoing contest on reddit that you can find here. The challenge happens almost every week and I won the 60th edition. The winner from the previous round submitted their card, and everybody must draw a magic card at random and create a mashup design between the two cards.
My duty now is to judge for the next iteration of this contest, and I will be picking a winner tomorrow! So that’s exciting. Do check those out and tell me what you think.

Now is time for me to get back to my non-magical tasks and wish you a great week. See you next time!

Back To The 80’s

Hey everybody! I told myself this week wouldn’t be a top-down design week, but something happened that made me lie. It was a design idea from a friend that I based myself on, and it lead me to a great flavour match and topic. Here is it:

Gremlin BreederGremlin Breeder. The original idea is to make a morph card that can flip up and down repeatedly and create tokens. In Khans block, goblins are the best to make tokens, especially because morph reminds us of something a little more organic than hiring warriors for example, at least in my mind. Who could best illustrate this effect? Gremlins!
I know blue is a little unexpected here, but I just had to use water to create more of them.

The fact the creature is a 3/1 is very important to make the flipping interesting, and the sorcery speed of the ability should prevent the token making from being even more annoying.

Ghost TrapGhost Trap. I won’t insult you revealing which 80’s classic movie it was inspired by. What I can tell you though, is this one’s flavour was a tricky one to follow as well.
The idea was to have an expensive colorless removal – 8 manas for the first exile – which could be used again, but with the risk of letting all the captured creatures run away free again.
Helvault tells me I probably still costed it too low, especially for an uncommon, but costing aside I think it’s a fun design. It does need to be prohibitively expensive though. Exiling spirit tokens repeatedly is a nice flavour touch that shouldn’t break it either.

I promised I would give you an update from Grand Prix San Jose. It was fun! Though we didn’t get great results… Team sealed is hard and it made us want to train for it some more. It’s great to see a lot of people – and a lot of famous ones as well – and play Magic all day. Fate Reforged is full of bombs and I haven’t gotten a great grasp of the new cards yet but I’ll be working on it!

That being said, I’ll be seeing you next week so you all have a great one.

Awesome Cards Done Quick

Hey everybody. I’m pretty busy this week so I will be quick. Last weekend I watched a few hours of the yearly charity event Awesome Games Done Quick, during which gamers do speed runs of tons of great games in order to raise money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Having seen several hours of it I figured I could use it as an inspiration and make cards based on video game characters. Here they are.

Rocket KnightRocket Knight is quite obviously based on Rocket Knight Adventures. It’s an awesome game, check it out if you have’t yet!

Just as in the game you can charge your jetpack for a moment then use it to fly away. I feared 2 power in the air with double strike would be too great, but I figured this one costs you a turn to activate. Added to summoning sickness, it gives your opponent two turns to deal with it. I’m sure there are still a few fun ways to “break” the card.

Boros might have been a better fit than Izzet for the knight, but the flavour was just too good.

Firewood ElementalFirewood Elemental. I was looking for a design for Megaman, taking his abilities from enemies, when I came up with this. It’s a stretch, but Dark Impostor and Necrotic Ooze already exist after all.

Firewood Elemental ends up being a modular creature that I think could exist even though two damages on a creature that costs 2 and has another pretty powerful mode is definitely pushing it quite a bit.
Think Flametongue Kavu meets Solemn Simulacrum. I see this elk being more powerful than the latter.

Good! I think this week’s designs are definitely in need of fine power level tuning, but they are definitely fun and interesting. I like the flavor too so colour me satisfied. I hope you like it too, and are looking forward to next article. Have a good one!

Back To Close The Cycle

Here I am! Those holidays felt well deserved, now I’m back and resuming all activities. Last week I left open a cycle of pushed uncommon 2 drops, giving you all the allied color ones and leaving the enemy color combinations for this week. And this is what we’re going to do! Let’s see what Boros, Golgari, Simic, Orzhov, and Izzet have in store for us.

Envoy of IroasEnvoy of Iroas is the simplest card design.

Basically a drop 1 you control will become a 4/3 with haste and first strike. One thing I didn’t think of until now is that you will likely not be able to attack with your 2/1 or 2/2 on the turn that you play Envoy of Iroas.
Most likely you will prefer attacking the envoy instead, which is pretty good still!

Does a 4/3 first strike attacking on turn 2 worth 2 cards? Most likely, wouldn’t you say? Keep in mind the minor upside of getting your 1 drop back if he dies.

Tainted ScreecherTainted Screecher is a recycled design or mines.

To me it feels simpler, less splashy and possibly also weaker than the other designs. It is also more likely to be a well balanced and playable card.

Paying 2 life to give your 2 drop flying isn’t great but acceptable if you need some evasion. Having access to deathtouch is also always fun in defense. As long as you have some life to spare, it should be useful in all situations then, right?

I’d love to have access to a card like Tainted Screecher when playing limited.

Kioras WaveriderKiora’s Waverider.

This one feels much like a tamer version of the previous one. Its floor is lower, as it is a simple 2/2 defender creature to begin with. On the other hand, all you have to do to activate this merfolk is play an island – which most definitely won’t be nearly as good in constructed as in limited.

The upside will be all evasion: Kiora’s Waverider will surf your wave and gain both flying and islandwalk, while obviously losing defender. Simpler, tamer, but not quite bad I hope. Maybe it looks more like a common?

Orzhov HypocriteOrzhov Hypocrite.

How much would you be willing to give for a 2/1 first strike, vigilance and lifelink? Does losing 2 life and giving 2 to your opponent sound fair?

On one hand the creature could get destroyed on the spot, leaving you with a -4 life differential you spent a card on, but on the other hand what happens if you manage to protect him and maybe stick an equipment or even “just” a rancor?

Great stuff is what happens. Two hits will give you your life differential back!

Mechanical Reflection (1)Time to finish the mega-cycle!
Mechanical Reflection is definitely the most fun design in my opinion. It will copy the last played creature!

It actually seems powerful enough to me, even though you will have to wish – or make sure – your opponent won’t be casting a spell in response to it.

I have to admit a copy effect in uncommon unheard of – even though the original Clone seems to have been -, and I know that the templating isn’t perfect since mentioning copying a spell is confusing, but I still love it. What do you think?

And that concludes the cycle! It’s nice to be back. I’ve been having fun with those 2 drops, and I have to say it was easier to come up with the last 5 than I think it would.
Look forward to a consistent stream of material, as I’m still having lots of ideas.

Hope you will enjoy it, and until then have a fantastic week!

Colorshifted!

Hey all! I think we’re getting to a good place with the new article size, themes, and the use of Magic Set Editor. This week we will revisit a plane we are going to say goodbye to very soon: Ravnica. By now you probably know that Khans or Tarkir is just around the corner, and will make it in standard along with Theros. Today let’s celebrate our departure from Ravnica, with staples from the block, re-mastered in different colors. Because we can – and because someone gave me the idea.

PPack Oozeack Ooze is quite obviously the green version of Pack Rat.
Now you might want to discuss the likelihood for such card to exist. Slow incremental gain doesn’t sound like a very green thing to do. Black is much better suited to protect its rats with surgical removal, and turn after turn, make them into a huge army.

Green play style doesn’t favor that, and also rarely brings any type of card advantage to the table in order to motor it, but I can’t say the existence of Pack Ooze couldn’t be, since obviously it wouldn’t be overpowered.

Bramble WeirdBramble Weird.

I could have only color-shifter Frostburn Weird. I felt like making the card a bit more white-green feeling though. As I made it, it’s still mostly balanced, and would trade with a Frostburn, though Frostburn would have to pay twice before Bramble started caring.

I also understand that Bramble Weird can boost its defence as much as it wants, to which I answer: Groot. Personally, I like it!

 

Master of WindsBonus Card: Master of Winds.
This one isn’t from Ravnica, but it’s too fun not to showcase. Devotion has this way of making a card deeply liked to its color, which makes it all the more interesting to shift.

Here I can see a big issue: white can take advantage of token strategies much better than blue. That being said, I don’t imagine it would have been so powerful that the whole meta-game would have shifted. I could be very wrong. I can imagine it would have been played in competitive play but maybe not into a top tier deck as powerful as blue devotion has been recently.

Wasn’t this great? I know Magic colors have a very strong identity, but in the end there is a fair space to work with and around each of the factions. It’s probably for the best, we don’t want design to be overly stiff in that area. The colors of magic, much like people, have several dimensions to them and that makes them all the more interesting!

Hope you had a great time, enjoy your week and see you next time!

2014 Design Contest Finals

Here we are, the finals of the contest we started two weeks ago. Binding Ritual and Lord of Lambholt won the previous round with respectively over 84% and 58%. I guess the pairings on the first was fairly unlucky since it was a crashing victory. More popular designs might have lost in the previous round. That being said it’s not the most surprising Forges of Insanity lost, it was a pretty simple dual land design – so maybe not the most exciting. It’s time to elect the best design of last year now, so let’s have a last look at them in their latest updated version:

LambholtLord of Lambholt
If you remember the original post, this was my attempt at creating a vampire lord in the vein of Mayor of Avabruck.
Obviously the design isn’t print ready, but I think it could have led to some great human / vampire fun in Innistrad. Kinda makes you want to try and build a tribal deck, doesn’t he?

Binding RitualBinding Ritual

Quite troublesome to adapt to the new Banisher Priest template, since I could’t say “opponent loses life and you gain life until…”. You have to explain what happens then. At least my solution enables you to steal life to a player and give it back to another in a multiplayer game!

This design was very popular, which had to be expected, as similar cards also are, and this one is a tasty twist on Detention Sphere, including a significant drawback – it can only target creatures and not permanents.

Come on and vote now! I know which one’s my favorite, but I won’t tell! Instead I’m going to slip in a design that I’ve posted on a my new mild obsession: the subreddit /r/custommagic. They have lots of great designers and regular contests on there, you should really have a look!

Soul of RavnicaSoul of Ravnica – I wish the name wasn’t taken.
I got inspired by a contest to redesign all the souls from M15 and make more. I couldn’t stay on topic though, as I felt an intense urge to merge every single of the 10 guilds in an Avatar creature.

And they are all here! I’m particularly happy I could merge Battalion, Detain and Populate, and that I could add Instant and Sorcery effects. Making sense for those wasn’t easy, especially on a creature. You might need to zoom to see…

Obviously it’s wacky, but I love it. Check out this Bullzzai expansion symbol too!

That’s it for this week! I’m starting to feel the need for some holidays very soon, so we will see if that impacts the pace of my publications. No matter what I will come back next week for the final result of 2014 design contest!

Quick shoutout to Anthony Milano who plays at my local shop Endgame of Oakland, and went all the way to Top 8 of a 400 person Pro Tour Qualifier this weekend! Seems he was playing some variant of Junk midrange, since I’m seeing Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil, Dark Confidant, and Lingering Souls. Congrats for the great achievement!

Over and out, have a great week!

Manalicious

Welcome again, hope you had a great weekend! I have a quick announcement to make: in just over 7 weeks, this blog will be a year old! I’ll try and think of something to celebrate!

As promised now, we are going to take a look at the last 5 of this dual land series, the ones corresponding to enemy color combinations: Boros, Golgari, Izzet, Orzhov and Simic. Let’s get started!

borosImperiled Village.

I’ve been looking for innovative downsides in this series, and most of the time I’m trying to figure out something that the corresponding guild is going to be able to take advantage of. Well Boros can make sure they have some agents – typo alert, I meant power 2 or less – protecting this village, so that you don’t have to sacrifice it.

Note the alternate “do this or the land is destroyed” template, which is different from “downside when entering the battlefield” or “either downside or enters tapped”.

golgariMarsh Shrine is following third template.

Golgari specialty being to fill their own graveyard, putting cards back into their library shouldn’t be too hard. That being said it’s pretty hard to insure it will be possible, – as taught by Innistrad zombies – so let’s make sure failing this condition will only cause the shrine to enter tapped.

Keep in mind that moving cards from your library to the graveyard back and forth can easily help create crazy combos – see Life from the Loam.

 

izzet Dragon’s Cliffs.

I have pushed creativity to the extent where the template of that card becomes slightly over complicated. Basically, the izzet dual land will inflict you one damage when coming into play, – untapped – and one more if you don’t use it right away.

What it ends up meaning, is that you don’t have a choice but play it untapped, – as opposed to Steam Vents – and if you can’t make a use of it, it will cost you the full price. Less choice, but higher upside.
orzhovEverdark Ghost Town.
Very similar idea here. Unlike with shocklands, you don’t chose whether this one will enter tapped or not, and the cost is slightly different than usual. Instead of losing 2 life, you lose 1 and your opponent gains 1.

Generally speaking, if you are aggro you would prefer your opponent not to gain 1, if you are control you would enjoy not losing 2. So this should fit well in the Orzhov syndicate.

This should be fun in multiplayer, as you chose which opponent will gain the life.

simic


Spore Valley
.

This one is amazing! I see it being similar to Temple of Mystery, except you can chose between an untapped land and a powerful effect.

I do think Scry 1 is more powerful than looking at your opponent’s hand, but that’s very close! All in all, Spore Valley should be very efficient, and control players would probably love it – which seems to be a recurring theme for my lands, and I think I know why.
The theme of this series was to make dual lands with various, creative downsides. I do believe imposing something on control players is easier for them than for the aggressive ones. Think about it that way: pretty often, a highly defensive deck will just draw cards during its first many turns! If you impose restrictions on them, they might very well shrug it off and be patient, while building a great mana base to play many various control spells to react to multiple possible situations. Meanwhile, disrupting the mana base of the player who is trying to be proactive is going to have more of an impact. If I ever go back to making utility lands, I believe more of them will work better with lots of creatures.

I hope you enjoyed those last few lands and like the ideas I implemented for them. I will come back to this theme and make more utility lands some day, and possibly try and stray away from bi-color lands for a change. Maybe I’ll consider commons and uncommons as well. For now I’m going to leave you with a bonus card: Zerglings from Starcraft! I believe this one don’t need too many words so I’ll let you enjoy it and wish you a great week.

See you next time!

zerglings