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!

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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!

 

New Legends

Hello everybody, and welcome to episode 137 of Ominous Designs. The topic for today came to me while browsing /r/custommagic. What we are going to do is create legendary creatures for subtypes that never had one. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be a pegasus and a wurm.

Pelianos Mount of the GodsPelianos, Mount of the Gods. Didn’t think how close the name was from Paliano – main city in Conspiracy – at the time…
It seemed pretty obvious that the pegasus should serve as a mount to other legendary creatures.
I toyed with the idea of implementing this myself but in the end nothing serves this purpose as well as bestow does.
I based the design on the better version of limited all star Nimbus Naiad. I needed to make the legendary creature better so costed it more aggressively, seeing that its extra ability was a fringe one: the faithful companion is ready sacrifice himself to save his legendary friends.

Talath Volarian SovereinTalath, Volarian Soverein.
This one was harder to come up with. Wurms are not your typical sentient and charismatic legendary creatures! I also hoped to make it a Naya creature so it could serve as a commander for a deck containing most existing wurms. After playing around with the idea of a big creature with activated abilities granting keywords from various colors, I discovered I could afford up to 6 of them as long as I picked them well.

So this guy does have a ton but I don’t even think he is more threatening then Soul of Theros or Akroma. In the end he looks like a Naya Cromat.

Those are your – legendary – creatures for the day. Let me know if you think of some other types that need a hero to represent them.
I hope you all have a great time, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Benefit from Experience

 

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 136 of Ominous Designs. I was inspired this week and I came up with the idea of doing experience counter a different way. Let’s see what it looks like, shall we?

Davkas SermonFirst we have Davka’s Sermon.

The original experience cards from Commander 2015 only care but how many counters exactly you have, and give you a linear reward.
This time, the card wants to know if you have more than your opponent. If you do, you are going to get nice exile effect. I could obviously not just turning the card on and off based on experience, so if you don’t have enough you still get small tap effect.

Overall the design is largely based on New Phyrexia’s Dispatch.

Huntsmans GearHuntsman’s Gear.

This experience counter theme opens up a huge design space so what I want to do now is use it for yet another card type. It will be an Aura.

Gear is very straightforward. It will make your creature bigger the more experience counters you have. What’s a actually new here is the introduction of thresholds.
If you have more than 3 experience counters, you get trample, and if you have more the 5 you can regenerate. If you think about it it’s pretty close to the level up mechanic.

And those are you cards for the week. Like I said the design spaces is great and easy to explore, so the cards came naturally and are reasonably clean and elegant. As tradition demands I will note that they might very well need to be balanced a notch, but that’s a task for play testing and the upcoming peer review, when I broadcast this article on my favourite social outlets, rather than during our free flow design session.

Now that’s really it for this article. I hope you enjoyed, I’ll be seeing you next week for 137. Have a good one!

 

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!

Mini Me

Hello everybody, welcome to Responsible Gaming for Ominous Designs episode 127. Today we are going to look at a couple of very famous cards and we’re going to see if we can make them into smaller, more humble designs.

Lesser Necromantic RitesFirst one is Lesser Necromantic Rites.

It is a real challenge making a smaller Necropotence. My original idea was to limit the amount of draw to 2 cards per turn. I did not add the “skip draw step” when I started out and it turned out to be, well, quite insane.

With that first line of text though, you will find yourself with a Dark Confidant that isn’t target to creature removal and only ever costs you 2 life, except you can never again draw your first card a turn without it.
Weird but I think playable, wouldn’t you say?

Flamecaster MageSecond card is Flamecaster Mage.

This one is pretty straightforward, it is obviously a Snapcaster Mage without flash who will always cast Shock.

I think it is sufficiency tuned down to make a red Snapcaster ok. It is also a mini Flametongue Kavu of sorts, or even a Goblin Dark-Dweller. Always be sure to balance those! My take is that a 2/1 for 3 in red is sufficiently terrible to justify getting a free Shock most – but not every – the time. I could be wrong so I guess do let me know what you think about this one as well.

That does it for the week. Pretty efficient one, that was. The enchantment needs tweaking but I like the Mage. This will also be a mini article, I guess.
Now is time for me to wish you a great week and see you next time!