Back to Basics

What’s up everybody? Welcome to Ominous Designs 176. There is a non-zero chance I bit slightly more than I should chew today, but chew I will. I started with an idea that turned into a card, a card which turned into a cycle. We are going to have some time to talk today so without further ado, here I come with your five designs of the week.

Ashes // Ashes

The original idea. Some cards have “to” in their name, so why don’t we try and pretend their are Aftermath cards just for the fun of it?

Ashes to Ashes was one of the staples of my young magic life. What would happen if I tried to split it in two? One of the reason I was particularly tempted is that it would create two Ashes halves, and I wanted to be cheeky about it. The other reason is I could be relatively faithfully do it. Ashes to Ashes killed two creatures and made you lose 5 life, this version splits those into two payments of 3 life.

Dust // Dust

As I set myself on track for remaking a few cards, it was only normal I would look into adapting Dust to Dust next. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

This one was also a simple double effect card that could be easily split into two smaller effects.
Now I should mention, my point isn’t to split those exactly in the middle. Mind you, my point isn’t either to make a completely viable version with aftermath. I aim somewhere in the middle of those, I want the reference to be a fun and somewhat plausible, albeit imperfect design.

Bash // Bits

We are now cruising in our cycle, going through names of cards containing the word “to”. While looking for a red card, I found Bash to Bits.

The amazing factoid about the card from Odysseys is that it was featuring the flashback mechanic. In that respect, our version can be almost exactly the same as the original!

Basically the only difference is that ours doesn’t reference the actual flashback mechanic so Catalyst Stone wouldn’t work.

Gnaw // The Bone

And now for the green card. Gnaw to the Bone is a famous limited role player from Innistrad and also a pretty easy one to make into an aftermath card.
Gnaw to the Bone was another flashback card, and it was also doing the same thing twice! No big deal in terms of mechanics, not too brain intensive in matter of balancing either, we just split the card in the middle!

Originally both sides even costed the same in terms of mana so the funny part here is we created two almost identical sub-cards, one with aftermath.

Reduce // Dreams

Our final, blue card is a rare! Reduce to Dreams was also an interesting one to split. Since the original was returning both all artifacts and enchantment to their owners’ hands, I am separating the two for our last design of the day.

This makes for a lot more flexible and efficient card. I took to heart to keep the mana cost overall the same here, which might have lead to a slightly undercosted combination. I also made sure to keep most of the cost for the artifact half, so as to not make it a sorcery speed Hurkyl’s Recall.

I am not going to lie, I am rather glad we are done with those! I was a fun exercise and I invite you to make more of them but they are not as interesting to debate over. I hope you enjoyed the thought process and the cards, though.

My work is done here, I will now say good day or night to you, see you next week, and play responsibly.

 

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I Hate It When You Do That

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 172 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to look at hosers of a particular kind: two cards aimed at shutting down specific strategies that are pet peeves for many players. Let’s see what those are.

Current Shaper

This merfolk has one goal and one only: do away with Hexproof and protections of all kinds. Those have been deemed so unfun and non interactive that they aren’t part of the evergreen abilities any more.

I figured that only merfolks would care for an ability carried by a small body, the race being home to very strong tribal themes. Shaper has an interesting application to a True-Name Nemesis mirror match-up, deactivating the aforementioned merfolk altogether.

Stern Chaplin

Our little hate-bear arguably aims even wider, since he attacks all alternate win conditions that come on permanents.
Do you hate people randomly winning games with Azor’s ElocutorsBiovisionaryBattle of Wits and the likes? Chaplin is here for you. Note that this won’t prevent things such as Coalition Victory or Pact of Negation shenanigans, since those aren’t permanents. For some reason, even though I don’t hate alternate win cons – quite the opposite – I love the idea of referencing them all and shutting them down in such a simple way.

That’s it for the day! Two hateful – but really just for fun – designs that I hope you will like. Can you think of more of those? Do let me know.

See you next week for episode 174. Have a good one and play responsibly!

 

 

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!

Let’s Exert Ourselves

Hey everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs 170 where we feature a new mechanic from the upcoming block Amonkhet. The mechanic is called Exert and it means you can have an extra effect from your creature in exchange for it not untapping next turn. At the time of this article there is still only one exert creature spoilt in previews and it can exert when it attacks. I am going to use that but also a new way of getting your extra value in the following two cards.

Deep-Alaria Druid

Our elf druid here is featuring a new way to use exert indeed.

The idea would be to allow exert when using an ability. If you do so, you will get a second green pip from your mana dork. In exchange you won’t see it untap the turn after.

I think the idea is pretty strong though the balance isn’t too obvious. A two mana elf that enables you to get your 5th – or 6th if you had a 1 drop mana elf too – on turn 3 is pretty ridiculous.

Rethik Battle Scout

Battle Scout is pretty simple in its use of exert. Note that I did add an ability that lasts until your next turn, which is very new and mostly featured in Hope of Ghirapur so far.

If you commit to let your soldier not untap next turn, it will gain double strike in return for the sacrifice. What makes the card very interesting though is that you can make it not tap to attack for two white mana, rendering the downside of exert irrelevant! It’s a fun spin on exert, albeit going against the original idea.

That’s going to be it for the day! Hopefully we got your creative juices flowing in time for the new set that’s about to be previewed and released. As the preview cards featuring exert come out we will see how close we got from predicting its actual use!

I shall see you next week, wish you a great time and until then 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 Magi

Hello everybody, and welcome to episode 168 of Ominous Designs. This week we are going to add a couple more cards to the cycle of Magi, which I’m pretty sure should be the plural of Magus – not that it makes it sound any better. In case you are not familiar with those, a Magus is a creature that reproduces abilities from a cult artifact or enchantment such as Yawgmoth’s Will or Nevinyrral’s Disk. Today we start with a black creature…

Magus of the Nightmare

Can you recognize this one? Recurring Nightmare is an enchantment from Exodus with the same ability as our Magus, costs two and a black, and is a powerhouse in cube.

My hope here is that making this Magus cost four including two mana that have to be black will curve out the main abuse of Recurring Nightmare which is chaining several uses during the same turn – for 4BB or 6BBB. With this one you will need at least 4BBBB for two uses, making the third one nearly impossible to pull off with only conventional mana sources.

Magus of the Attack

How about this one? Sneak Attack is the original model for this Magus and is still occasionally wrecking opponents as high as the Legacy format.

I do think bumping the mana cost of Sneak Attack to 6 should limit early-game throwing of huge creatures to a reasonable amount, plus the usual vulnerability of a 6 drop creature to removal.
I still can’t help but feel very excited at the idea of an easier to get and reprint duplicate of Sneak Attack for commander decks. Maybe I shouldn’t be…

Two Magi, one article. That is all for the day so I hope you enjoyed the cards. Magi are fun to create and have a very strong nostalgia value. Usually they just aren’t very playable in non-casual constructed formats because they rely on extremely strong effects for which designers can’t easily find a middle ground between busted and neutered.

As usual, tell me what you think and hit me up with feedback or if those inspired you with more designs. I will see you next week myself, I hope you have a great time until then and remember to play responsibly!

 

Little Buddies

Hey all, welcome to episode 167 of Ominous Designs. This week our theme is simple, we are going to look at 2 drops that bring something from a color and reinforce a typical ability from a second color. Rather than confuse you it is best we start by looking at our first card, and the origin of today’s topic:

Kerathan Battle Shaman

This shaman originated with the idea of giving you a free fight when you cheat creatures into play, as many green effects do.

Originally I figured I should add a mana producing clause because the first ability was so narrow, but since I have found several mechanics that apply. Flickering is one of them, though it would mean dipping into at least a third color, but evoke and suspend also would give you free fight effects fairly easily. Those two are to be monitored for power level, especially evoke. Should say nontoken too.

Lakegreed Oracle

I wanted to not overlap with the previous design so all three Esper colors where available to me. I picked drawing cards for blue, and -1/-1 for black.

I think getting one for free every turn, plus occasional small removal effects when you draw extra cards is acceptable. Oracle will be forced to target himself if there is nobody around which is leftover from when I was playing with -1/-0 and thought this was fine. It makes for an unfortunate yet possibly balanced side-effect now, so I am not too sorry I left it there. The card is still pretty powerful as it it.

That is going to be it for the day. I had a hard time balancing the cards today, they probably still need a fair amount of ironing out. As usual food for thoughts is always good though, and there has to be a least one way to balance any particular effect, virtually regardless of how strong or weak its base is.

I hope you enjoyed the cards, do let me know what you think about them and I’ll see you next time for episode 168. Until then, have a great week and play responsibly!