From the Vault Vol. 2

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 172 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to continue a long trend of designs taken from my personal vault of ideas and make it official this time by calling this article “Episode 2”. The two cards won’t be related in any other way that they are fun and well suited for limited or casual/commander play, so without further introduction, let’s have a look at them now.

Zombie Mass

I had many versions of this card in the back of my mind for quite some time now, and I am glad it finally makes it to… I was going to say the physical world, but I guess virtual will do for now.

The idea is to make a Zombie Giant who can pop out smaller zombies from his huge, reconstructed body, reducing its own size. The ability while useful isn’t particularly powerful, especially only when attacking. Considering that it comes on top of a very flexible creature though, – mostly in size – it should be enough for a fun casual rare.


Rush of Expandables

It is somewhat hard to believe that this was never made before. Creating expendable tokens is a very red thing to do, so why not create a ton of them!

I believe the hardest part in justifying this design is the cost, provided that the effect could reveal quite powerful. Here I took a hint from Gruesome Slaughter which I decided to make more powerful by not raising the cost, while adding effect. I think it is still within the bounds of a reasonable power level, but I will trust your opinions on that.

I would love to get to try those designs and evaluate how powerful exactly they are, either in limited or casual commander format. Do tell me what you think about them.
That is all for now though so see you next time for episode 173, have a great week, and play responsibly!

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.

Making a Mess

Hello everybody! Welcome to episode 166 of Ominous Designs, were we make big cards for wacky casual games. I took both of those out of my vault, and this is probably as much introduction as you need! The two cards don’t have a ton in common so let’s just have a look at them.

begetter-of-singularityBegetter of Singularity

This one is definitely the bigger and messier of the two. What we have here is a huge Eldrazi creature that will exile everyone’s cards from their hands when cast, keep them all nice and warm under it.

What happens next will surprise you… Every turn, the massive 5/9 returns one of the cards at random to the active player. You are going to end up playing your opponents cards, which is always fun. I can tell people are going to complain that the effect is too symmetrical though, unfortunately I couldn’t fix that in few enough words to fit in there.

kerathan-war-axeKerathan War Axe

I wanted to create an equipment with multiple colored activated abilities. I very much did so here, making sure there is also an initial, static and colorless bonus of +2/+2 for all.

With Jund colored mana, the war axe temporarily gives the equipped creature deathtouch, first strike or trample, most combinations of which have deadly synergies. Keeping that in mind I decided to make the sword easier to cast but one more to equip than a sword, to prevent endless attacking and blocking with first strike and deathtouch.

That is all for the day! Hope you are excited as I am at the idea of testing those in a commander game. They should be a ton of fun.

Do let me know what you think and I will be sure to answer and maybe talk about it next week. Until then have a great time and play responsibly!

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!

Freestyle

What’s up everybody, welcome to episode 160 of Ominous Designs. This week I brought you two cards I created within two days of recording the episode, with no particular theme to them. Good designs though, I hope.

assert-dominanceAssert Dominance

I believe this one was influenced by my great experience with Rishkar’s Expertise a the Aether Revolt pre-release, though I am pretty sure my main intent was to reproduce or fix an old design of mine you can find here.

It is a rather hard design to balance, with wild variation in power level. It can easily be a Careful Study or a Divination, but in the late game it will likely dig fairly deep into your deck.
Combine with bounce effects or pump spells for maximum effect!

sublime-battle-armorSublime Battle Armor

What can I say. If you don’t see where this is coming from you probably have never heard of Sublime Archangel.

I actually first thought that it would be a good way to somehow still get a use out of the creatures you have tap to crew a vehicle, which lead me to investigate the Exalted route.

Battle Armor looks great but it is mostly a give and take twist on the original design, which was a good card. I kept it white to fully mirror Archangel’s design.

That is all for today! As per usual do give me all your feedback on your favourite outlet, I shall see you again next week for episode 161. 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!

 

Remaking Magic

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 149 or Ominous Designs. Today we are going to set on a mission to fix some of the most powerful and what some might say broken designs of older days of Magic the Gathering. Our two patients – victims? – are Shahrazad and Umezawa’s Jitte.

story-timeStory Time
What makes it so that Shahrazad is banned in all formats? In great part it is that it takes forever to play games within games. To make it faster, Story Time’s subgame ends as soon as one life or one creatures is lost, each player can keep a creature to start, and life totals are not changed. This should allow us to use a simpler reward for the winner, like an extra turn and some life.
I now realize do that first part being triggered ability breaks the design – a player can still remove a creature in response to the trigger and win the subgame – which needs to be addressed. Maybe making it a cast trigger would work?

kondas-tachiKonda’s Tachi

This one is pretty straightforward. Of course keeping counters on the equipment itself is great, but what makes Umezawa’s Jitte truly ridiculous is the fact that it depends on combat damage to anything, creature or player, and that it creates two counters each time. In fact, only getting one counter each turn when hitting a player, probably makes Konda’s Tachi slightly under powered.

If it is, we can easily fix that by adding some evasion to the equipment itself – skulk, trample? – and/or perhaps tweaking the modes.

I am happy with the equipment but I wish I had noticed the issue with our new Shahrazad earlier. There is a chance using a cast trigger fixes most of the issues and at the end of the day, an abusable 5 mana card that gives you an extra turn isn’t the end of the world unless it’s recursive. The biggest downside remains that the design is still very wordy and sometimes might still make the game last a fair bit longer.

That’s it for the week, I will see you next time for the big 150! I hope you are as excited as I am. I have more than one surprise in store for you, so you should tune in to the Responsible Gaming channel to see the live episode next Tuesday night, around 7PM PST.

See you in seven days and until then, play responsibly!

 

The Haunting, Part 2

Today we are continuing the series we started last week with more cards for the mechanic imbue. This time we are going to get a little fancier. To that effect, here are three cards in Jund colors.

Gloombearer Elemental gloombearer-elementalis basically a fixed version of Gnarled Scarhide. The idea is to bring negative effect to imbue, so that you would imbue onto an opponent’s creature instead of yours.

Not only it is always cheap, but you don’t have to choose between a small creature for yourself and soft removal for your opponent.
Letting it also be a 2/1 for 2 might have put it over the top and I prefer not to take the risk and make it a common instead, for one more Mana.

In limited it should be fairly powerful, though I am not certain how much but I would gladly try it out.

rage-carrierRage Carrier is a very close design, sort of the red version of the previous one.
In recent sets, we consistently have had a red creature which has to attack every turn in. We also had a 2/3 version virtually for 1 mana and with upside in Shadow over Innistrad: Town Gossipmonger.

This one comes with both upside and downside, so we should be fine at the common.
A 2/3 is fairly hard to kill on curve so the downside should be less of an issue compared to the upside which is relatively close to a removal, seeing that this one is targeted, much like Skin Invasion.

greater-moss-hydraGreater Moss-Hydra.
Finally we see both first Mythic and the first triggered ability version of imbue and it is definitely a big, splashy rare.

It isn’t guaranteed that you will gain more value out of it unless you get to attack and control another creature, but that is quite a low bar. Even against a deathtouch creature you should at least do some damage and leave a counter and a nice ability behind. I just noticed that I might need to give trample to the imbued creature for consistency but the Hydra would probably need to cost 7 in that case. Balance aside this is a pretty fun design.

This is it for the imbue mechanic as well as for this article! Time for me to say see you next week and until then,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!

From Above Part. 2

Hello everybody and welcome to episode 144 of Ominous Designs, inaugurating a series for which I have been publishing entries for a while now, and is titled From Above. As you might have guessed this is top-down designs we are talking about. Top-down design is when I think of a character or object, mostly independently Magic, and then make the concept fit the game.

Every now and then I don’t have a particular idea for a theme and I will browse through my vault of ar, pick a couple nice ones and make cards out of them. To illustrate this, let’s now have a look at a big creature, a big enchantment and a big artifact, all of those in only 3 cards! Isn’t that exciting.

Sea TyrantSea Tyrant.
Doesn’t he look amazing? I couldn’t resist making a card for what seemed to be an obvious Titan. This second ever blue giant is also an elemental though, and his power is mostly inferior to that of Frost Titan. Pretty high bar that was, though; I’m quite certain Tyrant still do quite the job at finishing games, with his large body and good ability.

Tapping three creatures when attacking is no small feat, even though you aren’t likely to do that more than once. His interaction with Master of Waves is pretty amazing but I would venture still acceptable. Tell me if you think so as well.

Gateway to NyxGateway to Nyx.
Talk about a top-down design, right here! What I saw in this illustration was the combination of the starfield of Nyx and some more earthly human construct which inspired me with a design turning artifacts into enchantments.

The end result is pretty wordy but in a nutshell, at the beginning of your upkeep you can recycle an artifact into an enchantment and at the end you can do the opposite. You can even trade Gateway for say a Duplicant in the same turn you played it! I tried to keep the power level in check but this is still some potent piece of Magic technology.

You know what I am the most glad about? Not having to pick a different title for every top-down article! It’s the little things that count… A series is a good thing to have, so everybody should be happy now. I do like the cards as well, so I hope you will have good things to say about them.

I will leave it as that for now, see you next week and until then: play responsibly!