2014 Design Contest Finals

Here we are, the finals of the contest we started two weeks ago. Binding Ritual and Lord of Lambholt won the previous round with respectively over 84% and 58%. I guess the pairings on the first was fairly unlucky since it was a crashing victory. More popular designs might have lost in the previous round. That being said it’s not the most surprising Forges of Insanity lost, it was a pretty simple dual land design – so maybe not the most exciting. It’s time to elect the best design of last year now, so let’s have a last look at them in their latest updated version:

LambholtLord of Lambholt
If you remember the original post, this was my attempt at creating a vampire lord in the vein of Mayor of Avabruck.
Obviously the design isn’t print ready, but I think it could have led to some great human / vampire fun in Innistrad. Kinda makes you want to try and build a tribal deck, doesn’t he?

Binding RitualBinding Ritual

Quite troublesome to adapt to the new Banisher Priest template, since I could’t say “opponent loses life and you gain life until…”. You have to explain what happens then. At least my solution enables you to steal life to a player and give it back to another in a multiplayer game!

This design was very popular, which had to be expected, as similar cards also are, and this one is a tasty twist on Detention Sphere, including a significant drawback – it can only target creatures and not permanents.

Come on and vote now! I know which one’s my favorite, but I won’t tell! Instead I’m going to slip in a design that I’ve posted on a my new mild obsession: the subreddit /r/custommagic. They have lots of great designers and regular contests on there, you should really have a look!

Soul of RavnicaSoul of Ravnica – I wish the name wasn’t taken.
I got inspired by a contest to redesign all the souls from M15 and make more. I couldn’t stay on topic though, as I felt an intense urge to merge every single of the 10 guilds in an Avatar creature.

And they are all here! I’m particularly happy I could merge Battalion, Detain and Populate, and that I could add Instant and Sorcery effects. Making sense for those wasn’t easy, especially on a creature. You might need to zoom to see…

Obviously it’s wacky, but I love it. Check out this Bullzzai expansion symbol too!

That’s it for this week! I’m starting to feel the need for some holidays very soon, so we will see if that impacts the pace of my publications. No matter what I will come back next week for the final result of 2014 design contest!

Quick shoutout to Anthony Milano who plays at my local shop Endgame of Oakland, and went all the way to Top 8 of a 400 person Pro Tour Qualifier this weekend! Seems he was playing some variant of Junk midrange, since I’m seeing Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil, Dark Confidant, and Lingering Souls. Congrats for the great achievement!

Over and out, have a great week!


Welcome again, hope you had a great weekend! I have a quick announcement to make: in just over 7 weeks, this blog will be a year old! I’ll try and think of something to celebrate!

As promised now, we are going to take a look at the last 5 of this dual land series, the ones corresponding to enemy color combinations: Boros, Golgari, Izzet, Orzhov and Simic. Let’s get started!

borosImperiled Village.

I’ve been looking for innovative downsides in this series, and most of the time I’m trying to figure out something that the corresponding guild is going to be able to take advantage of. Well Boros can make sure they have some agents – typo alert, I meant power 2 or less – protecting this village, so that you don’t have to sacrifice it.

Note the alternate “do this or the land is destroyed” template, which is different from “downside when entering the battlefield” or “either downside or enters tapped”.

golgariMarsh Shrine is following third template.

Golgari specialty being to fill their own graveyard, putting cards back into their library shouldn’t be too hard. That being said it’s pretty hard to insure it will be possible, – as taught by Innistrad zombies – so let’s make sure failing this condition will only cause the shrine to enter tapped.

Keep in mind that moving cards from your library to the graveyard back and forth can easily help create crazy combos – see Life from the Loam.


izzet Dragon’s Cliffs.

I have pushed creativity to the extent where the template of that card becomes slightly over complicated. Basically, the izzet dual land will inflict you one damage when coming into play, – untapped – and one more if you don’t use it right away.

What it ends up meaning, is that you don’t have a choice but play it untapped, – as opposed to Steam Vents – and if you can’t make a use of it, it will cost you the full price. Less choice, but higher upside.
orzhovEverdark Ghost Town.
Very similar idea here. Unlike with shocklands, you don’t chose whether this one will enter tapped or not, and the cost is slightly different than usual. Instead of losing 2 life, you lose 1 and your opponent gains 1.

Generally speaking, if you are aggro you would prefer your opponent not to gain 1, if you are control you would enjoy not losing 2. So this should fit well in the Orzhov syndicate.

This should be fun in multiplayer, as you chose which opponent will gain the life.


Spore Valley

This one is amazing! I see it being similar to Temple of Mystery, except you can chose between an untapped land and a powerful effect.

I do think Scry 1 is more powerful than looking at your opponent’s hand, but that’s very close! All in all, Spore Valley should be very efficient, and control players would probably love it – which seems to be a recurring theme for my lands, and I think I know why.
The theme of this series was to make dual lands with various, creative downsides. I do believe imposing something on control players is easier for them than for the aggressive ones. Think about it that way: pretty often, a highly defensive deck will just draw cards during its first many turns! If you impose restrictions on them, they might very well shrug it off and be patient, while building a great mana base to play many various control spells to react to multiple possible situations. Meanwhile, disrupting the mana base of the player who is trying to be proactive is going to have more of an impact. If I ever go back to making utility lands, I believe more of them will work better with lots of creatures.

I hope you enjoyed those last few lands and like the ideas I implemented for them. I will come back to this theme and make more utility lands some day, and possibly try and stray away from bi-color lands for a change. Maybe I’ll consider commons and uncommons as well. For now I’m going to leave you with a bonus card: Zerglings from Starcraft! I believe this one don’t need too many words so I’ll let you enjoy it and wish you a great week.

See you next time!


I’m the Simic Oracle!

What? I need catchy titles, you know. Here’s what this one is about. Do you remember a post on this blog in October, mentioning an important Planeswalker named Kiora that has not been printed on a card yet? I made a couple version of her, trying to capture the essence of her character.

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Well, guess what. Kiora, the Crashing Wave has been revealed to be part of the upcoming Magic extension Born of the Gods! Here is what she will look like.


As you can see Kiora is indeed of Simic colors, though that much was known. She has a medium/low cost, similar to what I designed but that’s mostly lucky. She also has a pretty low starting loyalty.

The merfolk queen (I’m assuming she is one) has an ok defensive +1, which on my side was absent in favor of a minus ability. If her ability turns out to be efficient enough though (which I’m not 100% sure about), it’ll do her much good, obviously, as she will be able to progress nicely towards her ultimate, which is ridiculous as expected.

You see, Kiora was actually known to like big beasts, as you can sometimes find them in the depths of the see. Krakens, Leviathans, Octopus, even giant lobsters, she loves them all like her own children. My own blue version of Kiora has a pretty similar ability, and to be honest I think I might have designed the exact same one, in an earlier stage. Though I guess I went for something a little less ridiculous overtime and a little more instant effect, which in the end is probably even crazier.

urbanNow the middle, “minus” ability is the nicest. I reckon I have seen other designers play around with this one. You see, one way you can fairly easily design a planeswalker is to pick known cards, and make them abilities. And one or two designs I’ve seen for Kiora did have Urban Evolution stapled to it. Obvious downside is that it would be way to powerful of an effect as is. To be honest I think the designs I’ve seen were at least “-2” abilities, and were enabling the user to draw “only” two cards. Kiora, the Crashing Wave has a very nice twist to the ability, keeping it to one card for one loyalty counter.

Will Kiora crush in limited? Probably somehow. I’m still wondering about her being VERY powerful though. 4 Mana for a 2 loyalty… The defensive ability will protect her only from one source, so if you can afford to spend two resources one her, she’ll be vulnerable. Worse, a Lightning Strike and she’s fried shrimp! That’s a little sad (and delicious). Her ultimate is obviously over the top, but that’s all she’s working for if she pluses (is that a word?). On the other hand her minus is very nice, especially for control decks who just love drawing and playing lands. I guess Simic or Bant control might be back in force next month, stay tuned to figure out!

Talk to you soon, have a great week.

Return to Return to Ravnica, Part 2

Happy Monday everyone! I do hope you enjoyed the previous batch of guild-hybrid cards from Return to Ravnica, because I kept the most fun ones for today. Please check out last week’s post if you haven’t yet and need to understand what’s going here, but it’s pretty simple if you are familiar with the edition. Now let’s jump right in.

Tenacious_Mangler_by_Tenacious Mangler. Gruul/Golgari. Two guilds very enjoyable to make work together, because they are straight forwardly based on creature’s size. This could lead to very lean design, even with two guild mechanics in one card, as usual.

Tenacious Mangler fills the bill, with a sweet +3/+4 bloodrush, a good 3/4 body if played, and a whooping 3 +1/+1 counters for 3 with scavenge. And you are guarantied to get two out of those 3! It is fairly cheap, but reasonable, considering the card is 3 colors. I like it a bunch.

Allied guild: Rakdos.


Obzedat’s Preachings. Orzhov/Selesnya. I do like this one as well! Go figure. Because it’s pretty simple, I guess. And because I find it fun to add extort on tokens.

Finally, and that wraps this pretty simple design, those who played in Return to Ravnica will remember Eyes in the Skies, and how you can always populate some other token if you do have one, like a 3/3 or if you’re lucky a 4/4 trample or a 8/8 vigilance!

Allied guild: Golgari.


Cross-faction_Arrester_by_Cross-faction Arrester. Boros/Azorius.

Another beautiful one, because of the simplicity of its design.

This time I managed to squeeze the two guild abilities into a single one! Feels good and powerful, and for a 3 colors 2/3, it should be.

Allied guild: Izzet.




Grave Walker. Dimir/Golgari. Maybe not the most faithful design of the bunch. Almost all the other ones actually contains the mechanics from their guilds, and this one contains none!

It works in the spirit of said guilds though. Golgari will appreciate the self-mil aspect, and Dimir will enjoy getting to either mil the opponent, or have an unblockable creature. Loading it up with scavenge counters won’t be too bad either! Cute design, but not powerful or even synergistic enough.

Allied guild: Simic.


Breeding_Pool_Sentinel_by_Breeding Pool Sentinel. Simic/Azorius. Fun little one. Mixing evolve with detain is what you want to be doing in that little exercise of mine, but I wish I found a more powerful way to do it.

A 2/3 for 3 different colors will take a little long to build up to be able to use the detain more than once, and when you do that it will go back to being a 2/3. The good part is that it will evolve again, potentially for-virtual-ever, but still it’s a little slow.

Allied guild: Selesnya.


That’s it for those! It’s been really fun. I think some day I might revisit those designs, fix them a little and look for illustrations to make them look beautiful 🙂 Hope you liked it, don’t hesitate to send feedback!

Have a good week 🙂

Return to Return to Ravnica

Hey y’all,

These days I’m working hard on my edition (you should see my spreadsheet, it’s wild) and my app (currently blocked trying to setup google play achievements, boo), so I wanted to put a little something out there. I recently found some designs I made I believe right before Dragon’s Maze was out. If you are not familiar with the Return To Ravnica block, boy have you missed out! It was a masterful block that I had the most fun playing in limited. It’s not so far in the past, you should really check it out!

Since the backbone of the Ravnica plane is the 10 bi-colored guilds, I wanted to make cards that would embody two or three guilds, through the three color combination that corresponded to them. Today I’m going to show you the first whole 5 cards that were created in that effort! Next 5 to come next week. Sorry about the lack of images (and probably wording and design mistakes), I didn’t take that much time making this whole set. I also won’t spend too long on each card, don’t want to make this a huge post. If you don’t know the guild, again, check out the Return to Ravnica block! This will be fun, let’s check it out!

Undercover_shred-freak_by_Undercover shread-freak. Radkos/Boros. Could be crazier. 2/2 haste for 3 colors when unleashed is underwhelming, and giving all unleashed creatures +1/+1 with Battalion only goes so far. Fun design though.

Allied guild: Orzhov.






Nature’s Revenge. Boros/Selesnya. Tamed down Assemble the Legion with a built in “free” Overrun. Fun fun. Maybe a little too expensive to be very good, but good design as well.

Allied guild: Gruul.






Industrial Espionage. Izzet/Dimir.  One of the only non creature spells I created in that series (see other one(s) next week). Probably pretty bad though. Originally most of the Cipher cards had little success in both limited and constructed, and this might be one of the clunkiest ever. I do like the flavor and creativity of it but that’s about it.

Very high cost for a card that won’t have that many targets in limited, unless you are going all in on spell, which is dangerous.

Allied guild: Rakdos.


Great_Pontiff_Censor_by_Great Pontiff Censor. Azorius/Orzhov. Another very interesting design with bad power/cost balance. Playing a 1/5 for 5 and 3 colors is terrible, even if we’re getting to the very defensive end of the spectrum. Getting a detain when you play other creatures is largely not enough, especially since you could just be playing detain creatures.

Maybe make it a 2/5 for 4? Needs rework.

Allied guild: Dimir.



Experimental Aberration. Simic/Izzet. This might actually be too powerful! 2/3 evolve for 3, even though in 3 colors, is already quite reasonable.

The ability though, makes it a very scary engine! No matter what you play along, it gets even bigger! It loves removal, burn spells… Giant growth makes it a 6/7, and Enlarge makes it… Oh my god it’s horrible!!! Want to burn it or pump against it? Well if there’s counter-magic that won’t turn out fun for you. Maybe make it a 2/2 for 4?

Allied guild: Gruul.

How was that? I reckon those designs are better on the creative than the development side, because of course that’s the most fun part. I hope you are looking forward to see the other 5 ones, because I kept the best for the end! 🙂

See you next week!