Fallow Me

Hi everybody! I have a lot of news for this last post of the year so let’s get to it.

First, I just received my 2015 blog recap which you can find here. I was delighted to see that I had over 4 thousand views this year, most coming from the US but also a lot from Canada, Brazil, France and Germany. I was also pleased to see that my biggest daily post got over 175 views in a day, and it was not due to some referral anomaly but one of my solid designs of the year, Gruesome Sentence. Similar comment applies to my most viewed article of the year, which features two simple designs inspired by Magic Origins. Last trivia fact, I only missed my deadline and posted on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday 3 times for the whole year!

I am now going to keep the last piece of news for the end of this article, and proceed to introduce this week’s theme: the brand new mechanic Fallow – see terrible pun in the article title. The idea with Fallow is that you can discard a land as you cast the card, to get some extra effect. Simple! Now the cards themselves.

Plan for the FuturePlan for the Future is the first. Green uncommon.

Adding an extra effect to a fetch land when you discard a land is a trick that came very naturally to me. Plan for the Future starts as a Sorcery speed Rampant Growth, but there’s a twist…

If you discard a land as an additional cost, you get yourself a second land, this one in your hand. This is Cultivate for 2 and a land discarded.

Allegedly discarding lands isn’t what you want to do when fetching lands but if you look at it like a bonus, it’s an added fixing effect for your ramp.

Storming the Burning FieldsStorming the Burning Fields. Red rare.

The idea of a damage spell as well as the name was given to me by follower Magstarcraft.
I actually quite like the idea of a spell that can switch between dealing 3 to one creature and to the whole board. I think even at sorcery speed and sometimes costing you a land, it is still a fairly powerful and very flexible spell.

The reason to discard a land isn’t the most obvious but I figured that it could be an affordable cost. Ideally such things would be supported in a block containing the fallow mechanic.

Harsh SovereignHarsh Sovereign is our common of the day.

One of the tricky part about this new mechanic is there won’t be unlimited access lands for you to spend into fallow in a regular game of Magic.
Plan for the Future doesn’t actually cost you a land, and Storming the Burning Fields is situational. Harsh Sovereign himself is a reasonable creature, with a nice upside if you do have a land ready to be fallowed.

Drain for 2 is a 4 points of life swing, not too shabby for a common. 3 Would get us into Siege Rhino territory!

And those were the cards for this 112th article. Now for the big news… You have known for a couple of months that Bullzzai will be rebranded to Ominous Designs. Well there is something even bigger on the way, and it’s coming fast. Responsible Gaming is a new Channel that I am now starting, and it will include Ominous Designs as well as hopefully a bunch of other Magic and other gaming content.

As an opening act I have started live streaming on twitch – see link here – the making of my weekly articles. I also made this episode accessible offline on my Youtube Channel, here. You can finally see my weekly process and hear some of the reasons motivating my choices! Lucky you. I still have a bunch of things to put in order, such as logos, templates, and finishing the rebranding of Bullzzai, but you can already start following my channel and find Responsible Gaming on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you like all of this new content! I had a great time setting all of that up, and I have yet more to do. Let me know if you have any advice or feedback, I’ll be sure to factor that in for my future work. I’m quite excited with it all.
I’ll be seeing you next week now, you all have a great new year!

Snap Snap

Hi everyone. Welcome to a new episode of From the Vault: Custom Designs. I came up with this theme a week or two ago, which feels a bit like cheating compared to me scrambling for ideas to write this week’s article but it really shouldn’t.

The theme in question is trying to add colors to a Snapcaster Mage cycle. In case you didn’t know there is already a Dualcaster Mage in red. It is a tasty card, even though not as powerful as his blue cousin but let’s be honest, we DO NOT want that anyways. One all-formats powerhouse is enough for now. We will look into Golgari colors today, let’s start with black.

Ghastcaster MageGhastcaster Mage.

What should a black creature do with your graveyard? Reanimate creatures!
This one was plain obvious to me and the main remaining goal was to make it not broken. Using Ojutai’s Command as base I figured we were safe but looking at Gravedigger I am wondering…

This one is a rare with a different mana cost and a restriction on the target so I’m still not fully certain. One thing is sure though, it has a crazy interaction with Snapcaster, in a way that reminds me of Shouta Yasooka’s Eternal Command deck.

Thorncaster MageThorncaster Mage.
When trying to make a green creature for this cycle that wasn’t Eternal Witness, I naturally gravitated around land reanimation. I had to push my design enough so that it wasn’t worse than witness though, hence the idea that it could put the land directly onto the battlefield.

This would provide ramp when used with fetch lands, which I now realize would also mean you have to lose life again. I didn’t want this card to be an instant speed ramp that comes with a body for only 3, but looking at all the restrictions on it I now wonder… Thoughts anyone?

Those are it! Green and black snapcasters would probably revolve around similar themes I have used today though I think they would definitely need balancing. Do let me know if you have other ideas about what those could be, as well as inspirations for a white one if you can come up with it!

Now is time for me to wish you a great week and say goodbye. Until next week!

 

All About The Mana

Good day to you all. Anyone wants to make an educated guess about today’s topic? Here is a “Dora” silence for you to give your answer…

Yes, you are correct! Today we are going to make Mana. But no land card this time! Instead, we are going to look at a fetch land spell and a creature that makes mana in an unusual way. First, the spell.

Find ParadiseFind Paradise. This week’s article originated with a classic case of “let’s try and make a spell known for having limited use a little bit broader”.

Here, I want to make a fetch land – notoriously helpful at the start of the game –  a little more relevant in the later turns.

For that, Find Paradise is going to give you a life for each land you control, which should be better and even somewhat relevant later on.
Obviously the upside isn’t tremendous and I did make it a 3 mana sorcery, but I didn’t try for a constructed playable. I like it ok in limited though.

Next is Xalen Order FanaticXalen Order Fanatic. Or Fanatic of the Xalen Order, I wasn’t too sure.

I started thinking about making mana for red cards, and I figured that getting one to use on combat tricks could be a good idea. Little did I know that Radha, Heir to Keld  existed already.

From there, I thought it could be nice to have it be a symmetrical attack AND block ability, still for combat tricks, which led me to white.
Now, the 2/2 for 2 in red I originally thought was fine for rare, but I don’t think that card is rare any more, so it might need to be a 2/1.

That makes two designs! As every week I’m sure the designs need some ironing out but I like the concepts a lot. I most definitely am more of the creative kind and less development oriented, but with work and play-test I’m sure we can get to a correct balance for those.

That wraps it up for today. Coming up on article 99 and 100, I hope you are enjoying those as much as I do! I’ll see you next week, have a good one.

Alternative Rock

Hi everyone! In recent tradition, I have been dealing with this article at the last minute.
It turned out for the best though and you are about to witness an article similar to the one from a couple weeks ago about different states of water. Turns out this time we are going to look at phases… Of stone! Or rock, if you prefer.

We aren’t teaching physics here so don’t look too much into it, but we are going to see designs dealing with liquid and solid rock. Sounds good? Let’s see them.

Lava ClawsLava Claws. Liquid rock, get it?
In case you haven’t noticed, it is based on Lava Axe. Lava axe does 5 damage to an opponent for 5 mana, at sorcery speed.
Admittedly not the best effect in the history of Magic, and that’s ok. In fact I am possibly making it even slightly worse.

The idea behind Lava Claws is that it is a Lava Axe that needs a creature to get through, so we can easily shave off one mana from the cost. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if we could even take it down two mana. High power mechanics could make the card better though.

Koth LithomasterKoth, Lithomaster. He’s back, and he is angry.

I had this concept of a Planeswalker losing loyalty for a while, and another couple of ideas took me to this version of Koth.

First, a +1 that creates mana so that you can still use burn spells or gobelins without Koth ticking down too much. Second, a classic “lands are now creatures” ability which matches well with the idea that lands aren’t there for mana any more.

Lastly an ultimate to wreck havoc with your army of land elementals. I dunno about balance, but he look like a ton of fun to me!

Would you play Koth? I am not asking about Lava Claws because I think it would be a fairly bad card, even in limited. There is a chance one could build interesting combos with it though, and either way it is ok to make weak cards as long as they aren’t dumb designs.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Red Rock article, I will be seeing you in 7 days for another one! Have a great week.

 

American Gods

…Because 4th of July just happened? I couldn’t even get my cards to be red white and blue today, so nevermind. We are going to look at Gods though, that is exciting. I don’t have too much to say to introduce those, so we might as well just jump into it!

Lokuros the FiercewoodLokuros, the Fiercewood is our green god. As you can see he borrows from the gods in Theros by being an enchantment that turns into a creature, but it also differs in the sense that it isn’t indestructible and isn’t triggered by devotion. Close enough though, Lokuros cares about how many forests you control.

As a self-feeding mechanic, he will allow you to fetch one a turn. In my mind, for 4 manas that isn’t completely out of question, especially when restricted to basic forests. In the best case without other fetches, Lokuros turns into a god two turns after being cast. Might still be a little fast…

Vorok the RagemountVorok, the Ragemount is the red cousin to Lokuros. He functions a very similar way but is extra special. I tried to design him to work with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

Once Valakut is on, so is Vorok and you could be attacking as soon as turn 5 with your 5/5 god. From there on, you can sac a land for 3 damage, and retrieve it next turn for another 2 Valakut damage, rinse and repeat.
At best, when you have 4 moutains and a Valakut, you can drop your 5th land for 3 damage, attack with Vorok and sac your 5 moutains for 10 damage. Is that worth considering mono-red?

I am quite satisfied with the direction those cards are taking, but I do think they need a bunch a adjustments. As such I am particularly excited to see what comments they are going to raise and what feedback I will be getting from the prolific /r/custommagic.

Swing by there and tell me what you think, or see you next week! Have a good one.

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

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!

Going green (again)

Hey everybody. How are you liking Khans of Tarkir? I’m having a nice time with it myself; so far I made a Sultai and a Temur deck and they were both pretty good and won most their matches!

I wasn’t sure what theme to use for this week’s article, so I figured we could keep it green. It’s not the first time I do a full green article, so I guess I will have to give back to the other colors soon! Let’s start anyways.

Sultai PlantationTalking about Khans, our first card is related to the Sultai brood, one of the 5 clans of Tarkir.

This enchantment will get you reach creatures to survive longer, while putting your access lands in your graveyard to enable your delve strategy.

At first I was thinking of making Sultai Plantation a green Seismic Assault, but I couldn’t figure out a way to have defensive creatures be as good as 3 direct damage. Limiting to a subset of basic lands, I though might allow me to create just slightly more powerful tokens. 1/3 could be interesting maybe. Keep in mind I only made it uncommon though.

Kholna HunterKholna Hunter is a design I wanted to make for a little while. As you can see, the idea is to enable your creature to untap and block, with the caveat that it will be smaller.

I considered making the cost 4, but a 3/3 for 4 blocking as 2/2 seemed slightly unexciting, so it is now an uncommon 3/3 for 3 – including two green.

Now when you make a card that can untap like this, it should raise some flags. Hence the extra mana cost. As it is, you could already give the hunter an ability and use that ability twice more a turn for 2 manas, which is still potentially broken…

After the enchantment and the creature, we get to finish with a green Planeswalker! It’s also a great name in Magic’s folklore: Gaea, Embodiment of Life.

Gaea Embodiment of LifeShe was said to be a goddess. Now she is the embodiment of – half of – NaturalizeCultivate and guess what, Gaea’s Anthem. Not too shabby, huh? I do like that I based her of anthem, making it one more mana for the planeswalker form.

+1/+1 emblem is fairly low for a planeswalker ultimate ability, which should keep the power level in check. Same goes for the other two effects, but even though Gaea is nothing too powerful, I do find her interesting, and to be honest I enjoy a mild – but not actually bad – planeswalker a lot.

I have to say going green is nice. It’s the second time now, and it makes me wonder if green designs come more naturally to me. We shall see; I will try and be fair to the other colors in the coming weeks.

I’ll see you then, so you all have a great week!

Confidence

Hi all! I have some news this week, let’s get right into it.

main_1First I wanted to give an update about my app‘s new design. Here it is! As you can see our first task has been to redesign the top level menu.

How do you like it? We are pretty happy with it. Details might still get changed – like fonts or spacing – but this is the idea.

I think the icons are great, and so is the black and white version of the logo.

The idea is that everything will be white and transparent white, and the background color will change.

Bxg-tw2CMAARDI_Second news is I went to ticketfly offices this weekend and participated their 24 player Return to Ravnica block sealed event. I made 2nd place and won an original Dark Confidant!

As you can see in the picture I made a Sultai deck – also known as BUG – and I am fairly satisfied with the way I played as well. 5-0 until the finals!

Keeper of the Sacred GardenWhich gave me the idea for the card of week: Keeper of the Sacred Garden.

I’m sure you can see that this guy is a green adaptation of confidant. I feel mixed about its power level, seeing that it works like Dark Confidant when it doesn’t cost any life. You might say it’s a best case scenario, but confidant wants you to draw cards all the time! Powerful ones.

So it might not be that crazy powerful. I can also think of it as a tiny Courser of Kruphix, with no upside of gaining life, and no downside of revealing all your cards or being an enchantment.

Fun stuff, isn’t it? Next week, we will have passed Khans of Tarkir pre-release, so if you haven’t seen the spoilers yet, you might want to! We will see if those inspire designs… Until then, have a great 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!