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!

Simpler Times

Hello everybody, happy new year and welcome back to Ominous Designs for our 158th episode! I hope 2017 has started well for you all, over here at Responsible Gaming headquarters we want to treat ourselves with a detox of pure and simple designs for our first article. Let’s start with a couple of creatures.

rethik-commandoRethik Commando

Our very first card of the year is the poster child for the new mechanic. It isn’t a keyword, but it is strongly flavored to feel like what could be a major design direction for a color in a set. To that extent you could imagine giving it an actual Ability Word.

Commando will serve greatly in an aggressive strategy since not only will it trade like a regular creature, but also ensure that some damage goes through no matter what, as long as he attacked.

As you can see the mechanic is simple enough that we could have a ton of different declinations of it with different power, toughness, mana cost and damage dealt.

high-temple-guardHigh-Temple Guard

Very much the counterpart to our red creature, Guard will gain you life and it will do so if you blocked instead of attacked.

I love the organic feeling of being an ok blocker and giving you extra life, which should help the same goal of surviving and padding your life total for your late game comeback.

I was very tempted to make a 2/3 for 3 that gained you 3 life in order to reflect perfectly commando, as if one blocked the other they would bounce off beautifully. I opted not to do so because the actual white card would be pretty underwhelming. In fact I tend to think a vanilla 2/4 for 4 with marginal life gain is mostly filler.

So what do you say? I am very pleased to start the year with the simplest possible designs. You might know that I consider those to be very interesting, hard to design, and of the utmost importance for limited play. I do think we hit something quite good here and I would love to make more of those.

I have wondered if this cycle could extend to other colors but I fear it would take away from its simplicity. The best answer I could find would be to add black cards dealing damage as well and green cards gaining life. I suppose one thing I could do is switch attack and block for those, which would be very fun but also fairly confusing.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article and I want to wish you again a very happy 2017. See you next week for another episode and until then play responsibly!

Fusion

Hello everybody! Welcome to Ominous Designs episode 157. Today we are making some fuse cards. I am going to keep the design that inspired me with this theme for the end, so that we can start with an uncommon and then do a rare. Shall we get started?

lockLock // Key

Incidentally, I made my second design based on names that I found on some wikipedia entry. – siamese twins names, a very useful one – It is also my favourite design of the week. It is simple, elegant and probably well balanced as well as powerful!
There isn’t too much to say about it, except I did consider using the detain mechanic because it and fuse are both native to the plane of Ravnica. But since Lock is meant to be a tempo play, I wasn’t too fond of having it last two players’ turns. By tuning its power level a bit that way, I could also make sure that 3 mana would be reasonable for the two effects, making it much closer to Artful Dodge than you might think, though it does have the upside of a possible use defensively. – albeit not to the greatest effect –
Like I said I quite like the card, so I hope you do too!

aliveAlive // Kicking

The concept of putting a creature into play and having the possibility of making it fight was in my vault for quite some time. I didn’t know it would turn into a fuse card but it is quite fitting now. The tricky part was to balance it.
On one hand Alive is just about a reprint of Dramatic Entrance, and on the other Kicking is even closer to Pit Fight. I lean on the fact that both of those original cards are good but I hope not so good that they can’t be put together if I throw in two very slight mana downsides. I am not aware of Dramatic Entrance being used outside of commander and Pit Fight outside of Limited, so my take is that I have made Alive // Kicking slightly better than those two in their respective formats, which might just be fine.
Some time this morning, – I believe it was one of those shower thoughts – I realized that Alive was already the name for an existing fuse card, half of Alive // Well. What can you do… I’m sure there is another name out there for our design.

It’s been fun making fuse cards! Give me your thoughts on those, I think the rare is acceptable and I am rather excited with Lock // Key.

Planar Chaos

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 156 of Ominous Designs. This week we are going to emulate what Planar Chaos did back in the day, use known designs and twist them to fit in another color. Also well described as creating cousins for famous cards. Both our designs are inspired by powerful green creatures, so let’s see what their red and black counterparts are.

tarmouth-managorgerTarmouth Managorger

Obviously enough inspired by Managorger Hydra, the horror cousin here is almost the entire opposite to the original design.

How big can you make a 3 drop, knowing that it will steadily diminish until it implodes? That is a tricky question, one to which I decided to give the answer of 5. With flying. Also deathtouch.

Flying is here to attempt making sure you get value until 5 spells are cast, and deathtouch is as well, so that even a 1/1 would be potentially useful.

whisperwood-regentWhisperwood Regent

This one is the also obvious relative to Whisperwood Elemental. I tried to stick close to the original design and create a new way to manifest cards and a new payoff when sacrificing the Regent.
This big guy gives you a new manifest creature every time one of your red sources deals damage, which could get out of hand for less than 6 manas.
When you sacrificing him though, you have the opportunity to wrath the board, given you own a couple of manifest creatures at this stage, close to the opposite to the Elemental version.

How do you like our cards? As per usual I don’t think they are quite perfected yet but they should give you some food for thoughts that you can use to tweak the version you would think is the best balanced, maybe even create your own inspired designs.

I hope you enjoyed this episode anyways, I do like color shifted cards myself. They satisfy that pattern matching itch in our creative brains. Now is time to say have a great week, I will see you next time for episode 157.

Play responsibly!

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!

Breeding Pool

Hello again everybody, and welcome for episode 154 of Ominous Designs. This week I am putting on my mad scientist hat and proudly bring you a Zompire and a Spidrit! What are those you might ask, an air of incredulity on your face and a vague sense of fear taking over you? Well, why don’t we just have a look?

kelh-val-deathless-overseerKehl Val, Deathless Overseer

This, my friends, is a Zompire. As it turns out none of his kind ever saw print before. What a shame.

In substance, a pretty simple mashup of +1/+1 mechanics, related to both the zombie nation – coming back from graveyards – and the vampire family – getting bigger when hitting a player apparently is a vampire thing.

The power level is quite high, but for a 4 mana 3/3 legendary creature, it should be fine. The abilities exist on commons 2-3 drops after all.

lothna-hauntweaverLothna, Hauntweaver

Now I’m introducting the Spider Spirit! First one as well. Quite a gorgeous creature.

I had a harder time, here. It is in fact not easy to find common ground between two creature types that are mainly defined by having either flying or reach. I decided to give pseudo-flying to my spiders so that everyone has some evasion, and tried my best to reward creatures for connecting with an opponent by awarding them new tokens.
I am just sorry the end result takes 9 lines of text, because I really like most of the ideas in there.

What do you say? Would you ever create a zombie/vampire or spirit/spider commander deck? Seems to me that would open the door to some fun combinations. I reckon this is the kind of casual fun that commander players love to build around. You tell me!

Now is time to say goodbye though. I wish you all a great thanksgiving and hope you can relax and enjoy some family and a ton of food. I’ll do that as well and I shall see you next week. 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!

 

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!

The Haunting

Hey all, welcome to Ominous Designs 146. Our title today, The Haunting, tells us a bit about the process behind a new mechanic. That mechanic is called Imbue, and it’s a combination of Haunt, Bestow and potentially Cipher.

We are going to look at three different rarities of mostly simple implementation of the mechanic, – french vanilla if you will – and next week we will try and do some fancier things with it.

galewingGalewing is our common, and the usual blue flyier, except this time it is not a Wind Drake. It borrows more from Gravity Negator.
As you can see, the idea with imbue is that when your creature dies, it will lend some of its power to another creature until that one dies.

With flying, it is tricky to balance power level since depending on the situation, the imbue ability could be quite powerful.
When in doubt though, I go back to Nimbus Naiad and tell myself that for 5 mana I could have +2/+2 flying as well as a 2/2 flyer, so there is still a chance that our version is reasonable.

gleambearer-elementalGleambearer Elemental.

For the uncommon, we are looking at a smaller creature. I first considered using first strike for this one but didn’t like the potential swinginess of it.

I went for lifelink, giving us something similar to Hopeful Eidolon. As eidolon taught us, giving lifelink to a big creature can be quite the pain in the butt, so even if the power might be fine, I don’t think we would what it to be a common thing.

Still, Gleambearer is a tight little designs and a pretty great 2 drop if you ask me.

blazelasherBlazelasher.
Our rare is red, and angry! A double striker who gives double strike to another creature should be a lot of fun to play.

I danced around for a bit, trying to figure out what the cost of a 2/2 double strike should be, seeing things like 2 mana for Scourge Wolf or 4 for Hounds of Griselbrand. I think we should be good at 3 mana, just looking at Silverblade Paladin and Arashin Foremost which mostly have better upsides.
The one remaining question is should red have access to those stats, and I don’t see why not.

This is it for the week! I am happy with the design. It is not the most creative but definitely solid and tight. I cannot really think of a reason it would be a developmental problem and I can on the other hand imagine it be fun to play with. Hope you will agree! If you don’t just let me know why.

That is all for the week, I will see you next time for episode 147. 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!