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.

Fusion Dance

What’s up everybody, welcome to episode 163 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to look at a mechanic I have thought up a couple of weeks ago: fuse for creatures. If you think about it there isn’t really any reason you couldn’t fuse creatures on a double card the same way we already do for spells. This opens up a deep pocket of design space, so let’s see what we can do with it.

steadfast-captainSteadfast Captain // Hardened Captain

As you can see, on first glance this Dwarf creature will let you chose between a 1/3 vigilance for one and a white and a 3/1 trample for two red mana. Both are acceptable choices depending on the conditions you are facing, albeit not all that often in the same type of deck.
What really makes the card different though is that you can also chose to pay 1WRR for a 4/4 vigilance trample. It’s a bit of a weird creature but if you are lucky enough to have the mana on turn 4 or 5 it should be nice and serviceable.
The fact that you have a choice between the three configuration is what makes the card fun, though it turned out harder than I originally thought to make both sides acceptable at the same time as their merge version not too powerful. If anything I erred on the underpowered side of the fence for the later.

hopeful-druidHopeful Druid // Cloistered Druid

Now we’re starting to really have some fun. Admittedly Hopeful Druid is a bit too wordy but I couldn’t resist making a Golgari card that would make the milling and get-from-graveyard mechanics interacting with each other. I did so by creating an underpowered Satyr Wayfinder coming along with a weird 2/1 recycler alter-ego.
If you put those two together, get a 3/3 for 2GB that will possibly get you a land from the top 3 cards of your library, then make sure you retrieve whatever you might have thrown away by mistake into your graveyard or maybe even another more valuable creature that you already had in there.
I don’t think our Druid is perfectly tuned by any means but this should get the conversation started as I think there is a lot of potential in that sort of dynamic. Just make sure you write the abilities in as few words as possible!

That will do it for the week. As is almost always the case, I am glad to be opening a new design space with cool enough designs and more importantly inspiring food for thoughts for more cards to be created. I believe it is easily the case here and I am sure we could come up with a ton of creative creatures using this mechanic. Do let me know if you make some.

Regardless, I hope you enjoyed those, but it’s time to say bye for now. I’ll see you next week and until then have fun and play responsibly!

 

 

Mana from the Vault

Hello everybody, welcome back to normal life and our cycle of weekly episode of Ominous Designs. This one is mighty number 151. Yesterday, while recording our live episode I searched my design vault for mana producers I added in there recently. Here are two of them, an artifact and a land.

altar-to-the-forgotten-godsAltar to the Forgotten Gods

I don’t remember the exact time I thought of filtering colorless mana but I know it didn’t take me long to come up with a mana stone that could do exactly that and also create a mana of its own.

There are many three-drop-all-colors mana stones out there, much like Darksteel Ingot for example, but really Altar is Chromatic Lantern‘s cousin in spirit.
I can see this one be quite powerful in Cube, especially combined with cards like Sol Ring, Basalt Monolith or Worn Powerstone.

overlooking-lakeOverlooking Lake

Our second card was inspired by the recently spoiled commander card Ash Barrens.

Adding land cycling to a land is difficult to do properly, as you want to know where exactly it will fit on a mana curve and balance that with the types of mana it grants you access to. I started with a two color version and it was quite hard to make it better than a mere gate.
This version though, while unassuming, provides great flexibility, especially if you factor in the powerful ability of cycling at instant speed.

And here we are: first article of a new batch of 150. Let’s see if we can get there!
Either way I do hope you liked the cards, do let me know what you think and I’ll see you next week. 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!

Yesland Permanents

Hello everybody and welcome to episode 139 of Ominous Designs. New week, new mechanic! I feel like I have done a good job creating more of those this year. I glad to have all that material to revisit and perhaps even a couple of those mechanics could be hand picked, tweaked added to a custom set!
Today’s mechanic is pretty ambitious as we are trying to create cards that can either be lands or creatures, and I am hoping to do so at lower rarities as well.

SproutlingSproutling is the mascot for the mechanic Surface.
Lands with surface can basically awaken themselves. If you do use the ability, Sproutling well be a 2/2 for 1G, which is fine though not particularly popular these days for green creatures.

If you don’t so it’s simply a land that comes into play tapped and produces green mana, which obviously isn’t great but not awful either. It becomes amazing when you can choose between the land and the bear. Hopefully we can keep the power level in check by limiting it to either small or over-costed creatures.

Reef ElementalReef Elemental is the blue flyier herald of our mechanic. You will get a tapped Island or a 2/2 flyer for the high-high price of 4 mana.
Now let’s think about the implications being able to fetch such cards: this was the reason I could not default those to be creatures. They might be low-powered, but you still don’t want Primeval Titan to just get two of those and put them directly into play. Is it okay for fetch-lands to get you various small creatures in hand? It’s hard to say but the gut feeling would be that it might not be. It is still hard to imagine a constructed deck bothering to pull such antics for a 2/2 but maybe we still want to not give it access to abilities like flying.

And this it for the week. A particularly difficult balancing act this time, as I have gone through at least three iterations of the mechanic. Power level will also have to be closely monitored but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the kind of challenge Wizards try to tackle in the near future. Do tell me how you think you would implement it.

This is it for real this time, episode over. I’ll see you next week for number 140. Until then have a good one and play responsibly!

Riches

Hello everyone and welcome to episode 134 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to look at modal spells. This isn’t the first time, so let’s try and make it a little special. We are going to look at three cards with four modes each, some of which we have never seen before…

Planned BetrayalFirst is Planned Betrayal.

Most of those modes make a build-your-own Threaten effect. The fun part here is that you can have it be instant speed, which we know is great on those effects.

If you choose to cast it sorcery speed though, you will get a bonus +2/+0 for your trouble. The other interesting bit is that you don’t even have to use all modes on the same target. You might even pick modes to create some weird combat trick.
On a side note, I do hope it’s within the rules to pick flash as a mode when casting a spell.

Planned MachinationsPlanned Machinations is a simpler design.

The original mode here is can’t be countered. For the rest, we are making a blue cantrip. Power level wise, I based myself on something below Preordain but most likely better than Serum Visions.

I also based the design on the assumption that the modes will resolve in the same order they appear on the card, which I believe is true.
Those could easily be tweaked if needed for power level, as I did when creating the card, toying with different positions for the Draw a card mode.

Planned ExplorationI couldn’t help but make a third card this week!
Planned Exploration wants to do every thing ramp.

It’s an expensive card though, which should help containing the power level for such effect. As far as I can tell the most you could get out of it is two extra land drops and untapping a land, which makes it close to Explosive Vegetation.

It definitely looks like it could be broken somehow though, and it would be at least fun in cube storm. Thinking back, maybe I didn’t need to restrict it to basic lands though.

I had a fantastic time building those, so I hope you will enjoy reading about them. Let me know what you think!
I’ll be seeing you next time for episode 135. Have a great week!

From Above

Hi everybody. Today for episode 133 of Ominous Designs we are going to do something different than usual: top down designs from illustrations. What I did in the video is I went through some images I have sitting in my vault, picked the most evocative ones and created cards based on what they inspired me. As a consequence there is extra value to my Twitch/Youtube clips this week, so don’t hesitate to check them out!

Brutal AssaultBrutal Assault.

This one should be easy to figure out. I loved the idea that this was an action picture, and that it was mostly green. A fight spell seemed to be the obvious choice here.

Since we are doing flavour designs, I had to go for the Samurai writer here. With a base of one extra mana on Prey Upon original casting cost, I think it works quite well and is a somehow playable spell for limited, maybe even good in a set that actually includes samurais. Maybe we will need it when we go back to Kamigawa…

Lithomancer ShepherdLithomancer Shepherd.

As mandated, this illustration is as well very flavourful. The stone golem being raised just has to be an awoken mountain from Zendikar!
I had a quick look and to my great surprise only one red card – Boiling Earth – features the mechanic Awaken.
Since the visual focus is on the Shaman here, I tried to enable him to create multiple elementals. Shepherd now basically creates a 2/2 for 2 – or reinforces a land with 2 +1/+1 counters – every time you cast an instant or sorcery, which I think is nice but far from too powerful.

Simple, straight forward, flavourful. Yes? This week I am rather happy with both the creative and the power level of the cards. None of them are too good but they are definitely fine enough for limited, perhaps even casual constructed.

I hope you enjoyed those as well, don’t hesitate to comment on them either way! Now is time to bid you farewell for this week, so see you next time and have a great one!