I X U

Hello everybody, I am happy to have you for episode 155 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to review another couple of designs from my personal vault, both of which happen to cost 1 generic mana, 1 blue, and one of another color of mana – hence the title. Let’s start with red and an izzet instant.

multiply-angles Multiply Angles

This one is similar to something I did a couple of weeks ago, and its main goal is to finally bring us a spell that could copy either a creature or an instant or sorcery. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it has been done before!

I did want to keep the spell cheap, and I also had in mind a particular way I could make both sides of the spell weaker, with a Phantasmal Image downside or the ability for your opponent to counter the spell. It makes for an interesting and flexible package overall, but hard to evaluate without play.

jara-azorius-representativeJara, Azorius Representative
This one started with hearing someone complain about Dovin Baan. I set out to create my own cheap Azorius planeswalker, and it came quickly clear that I wanted an ultimate that would mirror Sphinx’s Revelation and a minus ability that would detain.

3 might actually be a little cheap, especially since the plus ability technically could protect it as well. It might be the case that Jara should come into play with 2 loyalty counters or cost 4, I just wanted to push the sphinx a bit. I also wish I found an illustration for Isperia – Azorius guildmaster – that would work here.

That is all for the day! As usual I hope you enjoy the designs and I invite you to provide feedback on the social outlet of your preference. I will be off now and until next week for episode 156.

See you then, and 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!

Planswalker Corner

Hello everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs episode 126. I had to improvise a recording on Monday night again, and it turned out to be the most catastrophic of all episodes! You can check out the video and see by yourself, though fortunately not all the issues I encountered ended up on this week’s episode.

I do have a theme for today – as ever so subtly evoked in the title – and that theme is Planeswalkers.

Kal Guardian of the SparkKal, Guardian of the Spark.

After I came up with the theme, I quickly thought of doing something similar to Sylvan Advocate.
I immediately fell in love with the idea, even though there just aren’t that many planeswalker that can turn into creatures.
In addition to them being red and white, – namely Gideon and Sarkhan – I felt they could potentially be green in the future, hence Kal’s colors. I also think that the ability itself feels green.

Worth noting too, I decivded a base of 4/4 with Trample is acceptable for a legendary 3 color card.

Keht Void IncarnateKeht, Void Incarnate.
Here is our weirdest card of the day, possibly week, month and year. I wanted to make a Planeswalker with a bunch of zeros and found the execution of that to be extremely challenging. The result is a less than satisfying card, but some interesting things to think about.

It is hard making a “minus” ability with a cost of 0, as you can’t bound its power. This turns Keht into a 4 mana unconditional removal that might stick around, which is already very strong.
The “ultimate” is the same deal: hard to define and to balance, ultimately cute but mostly functional.

As I said, our cards today are the byproducts of urgency and how little time I had for the article. The “zero themed” planeswalker was definitely something I would have to work hard and a long time on to make work. The result is definitely lacking, but in a way I am happy with how far we got in a relatively short time.

This weeks designs are still definitely worth considering and thinking about, so I hope you enjoyed them for what they are. Now is time to say see you next week, and have a good one!

Planeswalker Appreciation Week

Hey all! Welcome to Ominous Designs episode 119, as per – recent – usual available on Youtube for your viewing pleasure. This week we are going to play around Planeswalkers, which should definitely be an enjoyable ride. Wanna get started?

Watchful FamiliarOur first card is Watchful Familiar, and it features the new mechanic Disciple.

As you can see Disciple cares about you controlling a planeswalker at your upkeep. I opted for that particular template so that I could open the mechanic to multiple types of triggers, – such as dealing damage, draw cards, any type of effect really, but this also means that the toughness boost here will have to be until end of turn, each turn.

A 2/2 flying vigilance that turns into a 2/4 and gains you life a turn sounds exiting for 3, isn’t it?

Domesticated WurmDedicated Wurm.

Wurms are out of fashion but I am actually a huge fan of them. I even have a small collection I brought back from home after my last holidays!

This one is very powerful and if you do control a plainswalker – notably not the most frequent thing to have happen in those colors – you will get an even bigger pet, as it will virtually be a 6/5 trampler thanks to the free damage. At the very least it will actually be a 5/5, which isn’t too shabby.

For some reason I really like it! Hope you do too.

And now for a little bonus, I present to you Tibalt, Nephalian Outcast.

Tibalt Nephalian Outcast

Isn’t he pretty? If I learned one thing from making that card, it’s that double face planeswalkers are truly hard to balance. One thing I really wanted for him is to be as close as possible to a sorcery speed Terminate with ‘planeswalker upside”. This is what we achieve with the first -2. Both +1 are mostly kind of cute and such is the -3 on the flip side, and there is a reason with that. If a 2 drop planeswalker isn’t actively bad, – see original Tibalt – it really needs to be kept in check in terms of power level. Turn two is so early to drop a planeswalker that actually does something, legacy would have so much fun dropping it on turn 1…

For the 0 ability, the one that transforms Tibalt, I was into the idea of having it be the same on both sides, in great part for simplicity reasons. Now getting a -1/-1 counter every turn on a 2 loyalty planeswalker, is that too much? I’m having a hard time telling but it think it might be.

It was a good week, wasn’t it? Hope you enjoyed the designs. One thing is sure though, it took me a while to make the live episode! That was also because I came in with little to no idea about the cards I would make, but if you enjoy almost an hour of card making you’ll get a treat this week. Either way, let me know what you think about those, I will talk to you again in seven days. 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.

 

The Last Clan

How Ominous. Well as it turns out it was a fine idea taking care of those 5 clans as soon as possible. This week we are tackling the last of them and this Saturday is the pre-release of Dragons of Tarkir, where all the clans are gone for good! I’m reasonably excited for the pre-release, as it is becoming one of my main if not my most important interaction with a new set these days. I’m not as much into the idea of the two-color broods and craptons of dragons, but I’m sure it’ll still be fun.

As I mentioned, now is the time to talk about clan number 5, which turns out to be Abzan. We are going to do so with a planeswalker and a creature. Abzan hasn’t really been missing on much as it had a plethora of amazing cards in the first two sets of the Tarkir block, but let’s see what we can make anyways.

Abzan Leech LordAbzan Leech Lord is here to provide us with another “+1/+1 counters matter”, one that cares about holding the fort – and by that I mean blocking.
I pushed its stats a bit, and its effect is semi splashy so I might have made him a rare.
On the other hand I’m not sure the overall power level is a lot above an uncommon, so I decided to go that route in the end.

In reality if he is too powerful as is, we can change its cost, base power and toughness or outlast cost, hence making him into a normal non-rare, so I’m not too worried.
Diane Warrior AscendedDiane, Warrior Ascended is our last Tarkir Planeswalker.
I don’t know that any of her abilities is correctly balanced, but I love the idea behind all of them. The first one is a lot in flavor for Abzan, Outlast and even Anafenza or Dragonscale General, and is a welcome twist on a Ajani-dominated +1 counters theme.
-2 is my attempt at “great protection through creatures”, which Abzan should be able to pull off. Diane’s ultimate finally brings in the warriors, again with hopefully one of the best defense you could need. Admittedly it’s not infinite Krakens, but it’s also a pretty cheap ultimate.
I think we have another case of very fun designs with probably more development work needed on them. As usual this doesn’t surprise me, as design is fun, and balancing is hard! Playtest is just mandatory for that, and obviously I don’t have time for that kind of things, as I do have a real job. I’m still please with today’s designs, more so than with the ones from the Mardu clan the previous week.
I hope you liked them too, I’ll be seeing you next week with a whole new article theme. Until then have a great week and a great pre-release! Dragonspeed.

C’est Mardu

Hi friends. This is going to be another one of those straight to business articles. I bet you heard me say that more often that you wish you did but I have too much on my plate these days to beat around the bush for too long. This week we are cracking some skulls or hopefully will, by making some Mardu cards. Here it comes!

Mardu Assault Leader Mardu Assault Leader is our “cater to a need” card. I have ask on /r/lrcast what card is missing from Mardu decks and I got a couple interesting answers. The problem I chose to try and solve is “useful 1 drops”, and I also made it something that is ultimately aggressive, as a Mardu 1 drop should be.

I feel like Assault Leader is very powerful, but I don’t imagine it’s unfair… I could be wrong, since usually not giving any downside to a pure “this could be two things” card is risk, and both side of this card are fine: a 2/1 for 1 and a 2 damage spell for 1RR, or 1R if already in play.

Olorae BloodcrazedOlorae, Bloodcrazed. As it turns out, all the planswalkers I’ve made so far are women! Why not, that’s fun – cue joke about ghostbusters.

It’s been pretty hard figuring this one out, and I’ll be honest I was running out of time as well. I definitely wanted to make a PW that wants you to attack, and I wish I found something better to do than creating a creature, because I want to get away from the “needs to protect itself with a creature” paradigm. I tried making it so that each creatures attacking would add loyalty to Olorae but I couldn’t balance that in time. Her ultimate is also somewhat boring, so I think this PW needs rework.

But that is what we get this week! I do think Mardu would have benefited from some more effort on their designs, but ultimately the cards still look so cool and they open a couple very interesting design spaces. I would definitely use the designs above as a base and modify and balance them for the final cards.

I hope you liked them! Next week will be our final week with Abzan, right in time before the Dragons of Tarkir pre-release! Crazy how time flies… I’ll see you next time!

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!

All About Delve

I made myself lie again! It’s for a good reason too, but I see that every time I set myself up for a certain article the week after, something always come up and interrupts me! Not too worry though, there are plenty weeks in a year.
This time I figured that I wanted to add some cards to each Khan of Tarkir, and I would rather do it sooner than later, seeing that we are already well into Fate Reforged. I will do a full cycle of 5 Khans, with or without intermission. In reality what tends to happen is when I’m a big cycle like this I can’t help but think about all the cards.
We are starting with Sultai and we have three cards this week, so let’s get started!

Slith Sultai Regent We begin with our Planeswalker, Slith, Sultai Regent, lounging in her serpentine palace. She starts with a plus ability very similarly to that of Liliana of the Veil, so it should be fine.

Her “minus” is very experimental. I know giving Delve to cards is potentially wild, but since it costs a Planeswalker’s second ability activation I can’t imagine it getting too out of hand.

Her ultimate is somewhat underwhelming but it should still be pretty powerful. In that respect it looks more like ultimates from Sorin, Solemn Visitor and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker.

Sultai SmiterSultai Smiter is more straight forward and less flashy. Making a 4/4 for potentially 3 different colors and a Delve doesn’t seem overpowered at all.
As a reward for playing an only ok rare, you will get a nice scry-like effect every time you brawl with the cold-blooded brute. Look at your top card, keep it or “delve” it. Seems pretty good, especially when it happens even when blocking or blocked. All in all I would say the Smiter is not quite constructed playable, under Savage Knuckleblade in terms of power and also reminiscent but weaker than Reaper of the Wilds.

Rakshasan RitualRakshasan Ritual is our bonus card of the week, and is very much me playing with fire. Storm has had this terrible impact on magic cards that it has made it even more difficult to play with “free” spells and mana.

Same as I mentioned with Slith, I don’t foresee spending a whole card to make other one even way cheaper would be degenerate, even when you throw in the mill effect. I equal it to more or less removing all colorless cost from your next few spells which should be ok, again, if it wasn’t for Storm. I would have to call for specialists’ opinion to know if Storm even breaks it in the end.

Isn’t it nice to see more cards from the Naga brood? Remember, next set most likely won’t feature any new Khan cards. I hope you enjoyed them, you can look forward to more next week. What clan do you think or wish it will be?

Only one way to figure it out, it’s to see you next week! Have a good one.