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!

After the Maths

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 122 of Ominous Designs. Today we are finally going to see the mechanic I teased last week: Aftermath. It took me a whole day to upload my video this week but I had recorded it a day early so everything is fine. Since our mechanic is so interesting and pretty easy to come up with cards for, we are going to see three of them today. Starting with…

Survive the SlaughterThe first card is Survive the Slaughter.

As you can see, aftermath is a variation of flashback where the second time you cast the card causes a different effect. It was pretty hard to find a template for it and I don’t think I came up with the best one yet. Either way as you can see Survive the Slaughter is a mass removal spell that hopefully will give you a creature back.

I wanted the card to be over-costed enough so that it isn’t too oppressive but it definitely will still be very good, especially when combined to other removal spells.

Toy with MindsOur second card is Toy with Minds.

This one is very straightforward. It starts with an over-costed mind rot and follows up with a very over-costed divination.

We obviously don’t want a card of the sort that doesn’t cost something like four extra mana, because it is a 4-for-1! I still think it’s good as it is.

I decided to go for black cards with an aftermath cost of an other color, and that’s entirely arbitrary and mostly an esthetic choice. We could play with any color combination instead.

Succumb to RageFinally, we have Succumb to Rage.

This one is either two combat tricks or a removal, albeit conditional.
I didn’t want a card to be a removal and also two efficient combat tricks, but as a result the trick parts seem fairly boring. I’m pretty sure we can do better but then again there is the whole “trick + trick + removal” upside.

As it is, the deathtouch part can give you a 1-for-2 and sometimes a 1-for-1, while the aftermath can give you a 1-for-0 so even playing it that way is somewhat acceptable.

And that’s going to do it for today! Aftermath is worth thinking about and coming up with lot of new cards, as well as other wordings or templates. Let me know if you can think of other designs I’ll be happy to look at them.

Before I leave, I want to announce a couple new features for Ominous Designs and Responsible Gaming. I am still updating our branding, you might have noticed a couple changes on this site’s header. I also booked the url www.responsiblegmg.com, you can now go check out Responsible Gaming portal there, which contains most of my social links. You can also contact me at ominous@responsiblegmg.com, which is pretty sweet.

That’s about all for this week, once again thanks for reading/watching. I hope you liked the cards and all have a great week. See you next time!

Fallow Me

Hi everybody! I have a lot of news for this last post of the year so let’s get to it.

First, I just received my 2015 blog recap which you can find here. I was delighted to see that I had over 4 thousand views this year, most coming from the US but also a lot from Canada, Brazil, France and Germany. I was also pleased to see that my biggest daily post got over 175 views in a day, and it was not due to some referral anomaly but one of my solid designs of the year, Gruesome Sentence. Similar comment applies to my most viewed article of the year, which features two simple designs inspired by Magic Origins. Last trivia fact, I only missed my deadline and posted on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday 3 times for the whole year!

I am now going to keep the last piece of news for the end of this article, and proceed to introduce this week’s theme: the brand new mechanic Fallow – see terrible pun in the article title. The idea with Fallow is that you can discard a land as you cast the card, to get some extra effect. Simple! Now the cards themselves.

Plan for the FuturePlan for the Future is the first. Green uncommon.

Adding an extra effect to a fetch land when you discard a land is a trick that came very naturally to me. Plan for the Future starts as a Sorcery speed Rampant Growth, but there’s a twist…

If you discard a land as an additional cost, you get yourself a second land, this one in your hand. This is Cultivate for 2 and a land discarded.

Allegedly discarding lands isn’t what you want to do when fetching lands but if you look at it like a bonus, it’s an added fixing effect for your ramp.

Storming the Burning FieldsStorming the Burning Fields. Red rare.

The idea of a damage spell as well as the name was given to me by follower Magstarcraft.
I actually quite like the idea of a spell that can switch between dealing 3 to one creature and to the whole board. I think even at sorcery speed and sometimes costing you a land, it is still a fairly powerful and very flexible spell.

The reason to discard a land isn’t the most obvious but I figured that it could be an affordable cost. Ideally such things would be supported in a block containing the fallow mechanic.

Harsh SovereignHarsh Sovereign is our common of the day.

One of the tricky part about this new mechanic is there won’t be unlimited access lands for you to spend into fallow in a regular game of Magic.
Plan for the Future doesn’t actually cost you a land, and Storming the Burning Fields is situational. Harsh Sovereign himself is a reasonable creature, with a nice upside if you do have a land ready to be fallowed.

Drain for 2 is a 4 points of life swing, not too shabby for a common. 3 Would get us into Siege Rhino territory!

And those were the cards for this 112th article. Now for the big news… You have known for a couple of months that Bullzzai will be rebranded to Ominous Designs. Well there is something even bigger on the way, and it’s coming fast. Responsible Gaming is a new Channel that I am now starting, and it will include Ominous Designs as well as hopefully a bunch of other Magic and other gaming content.

As an opening act I have started live streaming on twitch – see link here – the making of my weekly articles. I also made this episode accessible offline on my Youtube Channel, here. You can finally see my weekly process and hear some of the reasons motivating my choices! Lucky you. I still have a bunch of things to put in order, such as logos, templates, and finishing the rebranding of Bullzzai, but you can already start following my channel and find Responsible Gaming on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you like all of this new content! I had a great time setting all of that up, and I have yet more to do. Let me know if you have any advice or feedback, I’ll be sure to factor that in for my future work. I’m quite excited with it all.
I’ll be seeing you next week now, you all have a great new year!

On the Commutativity of Spells

Hi all! The rather convoluted title on our article today is meant to introduce the following question: in Magic, is doing the same effect 3 times the same thing as doing an effect three times stronger once? I think the answer is quite obviously no and we are about to see why, thanks to a partial cycle of cards that I have – uninspiredly – named ceremonies.

Kindle CeremonyKindle Ceremony.

This one was the first design that came to me. A rather simple and straight forward spin on something we have seen a couple of times before, more recently in Fiery Confluence.

Being able to chose between one damage to three targets and three damage to one is great, even though definitely less powerful than Flames of the Firebrand.

Does that allow us to pay only two mana – albeit one more red – and have it be instant? You tell me.

River CeremonyRiver Ceremony.

This one was quite predictable. As is turns out there aren’t many X effects in each color, and by that I mean effects that can grow linearly, based on a number.

Green mainly has +1/+1 counters. Life gain and card drawing only come next, and aren’t the greenest in spirit.

Power-wise I based myself on cards like Cached Defenses and Reap What Is Sown, hopefully finding a good balance for a flexible sorcery.

Deadwood CeremonyDeadwood Ceremony isn’t too surprising either.

Apart from draw X, lose X – which really wouldn’t make sense with 3 targets – I couldn’t think of many black X effects at all.

The black ceremony could be very powerful, though somewhat similar to the red one. As such you can see I decided to make it a sorcery and make it cost one more.

I costed it based on comparisons to Marsh Casualties and Drown in Sorrow in order to get something that would be powerful but fair.

What do you think? There is something extremely satisfying in the symmetry of those effects. Even though I am not certain of the costs, I think they will get a lot of Magic designers excited. As an exercise, you can try and come up with a white and blue one. Those look quite harder to design!

Hope you enjoyed this week article. Now is time for me to wish you a great week and I’ll be seeing you on Christmas day!

Fix What’s Broken

Hello everybody! Today I will finally feature what I have been teasing for a while now: my own custom made set of about 250 cards!

IMG_20151113_153829My girlfriend had this made as an amazing birthday present a couple weeks ago, and I have been sleeving them, making them into decks and play testing them with her since then. Now I can finally show the world.
She had the help from San Francisco printing company in called HH Imaging, and the result looks pretty great! Click the images to see for yourself.

IMG_20151113_102653As you can see they have a beautiful back that sports the name Ominous, which is part of a rebranding that I am working on.
Bullzzai is my brand for Magicky things that I named after a life long nickname Banzzai. In the past few years I have taken on blogging, app making and streaming and I want to create a better brand under this more catchy name.

IMG_20151118_124320 (1)From having sleeved and played those cards I can tell you that they are at the same time amazing in quality and impossible to mistake for actual magic cards. They are slightly thicker, definitely glossier, and from a minor mistake slightly too big to fit in non clear sleeves.
At the same time, both the Ominous background and the Magic Set Editor template are well different from actual cards, which I think is great as I am not trying to make fake cards. Those still look and play fantastic though.
One minor issue was I ended up having to use clear sleeves and put Ominous cards in my basic land sleeves as well, to show the same back.

IMG_20151113_181810Now the play testing is definitely the best part.

It is a blast being able to actually play my favorite designs from the past two years against each other! It wasn’t the easiest making decks out of cards that were not created to function with each other, but with the help of mana fixing I could create two 3 color decks that are really fun.

Here you can see my girlfriend wrecking me by casting a rare Angelic War Leader, followed by Eternal War, that destroys all non-demon and non-angel creatures!

I was feeling a bit salty but couldn’t resist immortalizing the bad beat. Playing them made me wish my designs were perfect, and now I want them to better them even more.

As such, today I decided to feature two designs that I have been playing with recently and I think should be fixed. Let’s have a look at them.

Command the Winds(2)Command the Winds original version costed 4 manas.
I figured at the time that since I added the “only if you have a flying creature” clause it would be ok, but it turned out being all too easy to make happen for a killer effect.

I toyed around with the idea of making it draw only one card if you don’t, for the same cost, but that would then make for an either useless or amazing card.
With a cost of 5, Command the Winds becomes a less powerful version of Jace’s Ingenuity, which feels better to me. More playtesting to come!

Orzhov Hypocrite(2)Orzhov Hypocrite used to have first strike and lifelink and drain you for 2 when coming into play.

First strike on a 2 drop seemed way too powerful for my format, given that I was playing it in a Mardu deck facing much less aggressive green and blue designs, which didn’t help at all.

Even then, I feel like vigilance and lifelink makes for a more balanced design. I now wonder if I could have kept the initial drain to 2 instead of raising it to 3 as I did for this version. What I needed to do though is raise its toughness from 1 to 2, which makes total sense here.

What do you think? I am happier with the new versions of my cards; it’s definitely a minor bummer to realize your designs are broken but it feels great knowing that you can make it all better and keep iterating until they are truly fun to play.

I want to reiterate huge thanks to my life partner for this amazing gift. I was the happiest unwrapping it and I will love playing over and again and bettering myself as a designer in the process. I hope you enjoyed the story, I will probably revisit other ones in the near future, as I play more with them!

Look forward to it and until then, have a great week!

     

Card Design Contest 101

Hey everybody! I am extremely pleased with how popular last week’s contest has been. I had a lot of work evaluating, commenting and electing the top designs. You can check out most of them here on reddit, please do have a look. As you are about to see, I also decided to create cards for the ones that have been given to me in text form, which also took me a while to prepare this article.

I am going to introduce a slew of those great designs made by you, and announce the winners plus some additional showcased designs. Let’s start with the later, shall we?

A Hundred Voices ScreamingA Hundred Voices Screaming. Because of its great flavor and interesting design space, I had to mention this one.

The sole purpose of this sorcery is to create victims and execute them right away. Making very easy and abundant something that shouldn’t matter in most cases is something very dangerous, as there is always a way to make it actually matter.

That being said, I figure that if you pay three black mana and a card at sorcery speed, you should be able to get rewarded with 5 death triggers. It doesn’t seem unfair to me.

12072700_10204045805860187_5360212146908646706_n One-Hundred Serpent Snare.

I wanted to feature this card as well, even though it didn’t make it to the shortest of lists.

This enchantment is a straight forward token maker with an incremental twist as it happens sometimes, like with Assemble the Legion and Endless Ranks of the Dead.

This time though I ran the numbers and without interruption you will get 2, 6, 14, 30, 62, and finally 126 snakes. That is a lot more than the legion and is scary to say the least.

Let’s move on to the top 5, shall we? It’s been quite hard putting them all in order, and I mostly wanted to feature a dozen on here, but I don’t have that sort of time on my hands and I promised prizes! So here we go:

Prism of the FinaleNumber 5: Prism of the Finale by cj_the_magic_man on reddit.

Our theme being “one hundred”, several designs came up with a 100-themed condition on a “win the game” spell. Prism is one of the most straight forward ones, which… Is quite telling, but I think the topic caused that.
Ultimately I think you cant have players count things and do math up to a 100 any time they want to know about casting their spell, regardless of what they are counting. The idea is still pretty neat and it almost feel like the sort of nonsense that goes around in commander games.

Hundred Shields of AkrosNumber 4: Hundred Shields of Akros by CoolDude678.
Fun little card, though I’ll admit I have been judging it with the mental filter of changing quite a few little things to it.

The flavor is real, and this instant should make you think of Hundred-Handed One, which makes me wonder why we didn’t pick the exact same number of blocks here; I don’t think tracking the number of targets in a turn is viable. I do think as well that the cost should be revised to be playable and Split Second feels tacked on, but I judged based on the spirit of the card, which I liked a bunch.

One Hundred CutsNumber 3: One Hundred Cuts.
Another great flavor hit by mooseattack. A design possibly very fun to play, except perhaps for one fact: I am afraid it would be hard to balance such a powerful effect, capable to do dealing a whole lot of damage to all your enemies every turn, as well as upon activation.
Most times I try to not judge based on balance anyways, as the design can often live regardless of tweaks to its power.
I am quite fond of the card but I think I might have been drawn to “100 theme mechanics” more than I expected, hence the following cards made it higher on the list. Good job though.

12143116_10207571737512578_8570523791881707701_nNumber 2: Pinnacle of Faith by Kevin.
I have seen many “get to a hundred counters and you win” designs recently, and this one I think is my favorite.
A throwback to Helix Pinnacle, which should tell us that this card is not overpowered. I do believe that if your opponent can’t help tapping that many permanents by the end of the game, you could likely make your own 100 mana instead. This could end up being extremely annoying for token and combo strategies though, or in multiplayer.
The biggest risk I’m seeing with Pinnacle is that if the mechanic isn’t actually balanced in the end, I don’t think we can easily tweak it.

Kings ReiforcementsNumber 1: King’s Reinforcments by PhoenixBurning.
Do forgive me for the typo on the title, at the time of posting I can’t remake the card…
I will start by saying we need to make sure this card can’t be cast for free, otherwise it can’t exist.

Other than that, a card making a single token a turn by cleverly using the Suspend mechanic, and also featuring a “10 turns later you win the game” seems great to me, especially since this way of winning the game isn’t the most powerful there is, at it is affected by summoning sickness and countered by mass removal or mass bounce.

Congratulations to the winners of this contest! I will contact you soon. Also thank you all so very much for submitting designs. I have had an amazing time reviewing about 30 of them, most of which were creative, fun and flavorful. Sorry if you didn’t make the short list, I had to keep it somewhat short and yet this article features 7 cards!

One last time thank you all for your attention and participation, I am looking forward to our next hundred articles with you. Have an amazing week.

All About The Mana

Good day to you all. Anyone wants to make an educated guess about today’s topic? Here is a “Dora” silence for you to give your answer…

Yes, you are correct! Today we are going to make Mana. But no land card this time! Instead, we are going to look at a fetch land spell and a creature that makes mana in an unusual way. First, the spell.

Find ParadiseFind Paradise. This week’s article originated with a classic case of “let’s try and make a spell known for having limited use a little bit broader”.

Here, I want to make a fetch land – notoriously helpful at the start of the game –  a little more relevant in the later turns.

For that, Find Paradise is going to give you a life for each land you control, which should be better and even somewhat relevant later on.
Obviously the upside isn’t tremendous and I did make it a 3 mana sorcery, but I didn’t try for a constructed playable. I like it ok in limited though.

Next is Xalen Order FanaticXalen Order Fanatic. Or Fanatic of the Xalen Order, I wasn’t too sure.

I started thinking about making mana for red cards, and I figured that getting one to use on combat tricks could be a good idea. Little did I know that Radha, Heir to Keld  existed already.

From there, I thought it could be nice to have it be a symmetrical attack AND block ability, still for combat tricks, which led me to white.
Now, the 2/2 for 2 in red I originally thought was fine for rare, but I don’t think that card is rare any more, so it might need to be a 2/1.

That makes two designs! As every week I’m sure the designs need some ironing out but I like the concepts a lot. I most definitely am more of the creative kind and less development oriented, but with work and play-test I’m sure we can get to a correct balance for those.

That wraps it up for today. Coming up on article 99 and 100, I hope you are enjoying those as much as I do! I’ll see you next week, have a good one.

Utterances

Hello, hello. Today we are looking at dramatic effects, world shaking spells. There is also a narrative: we are going to talk about war, and then what comes after.

Utter DestructionUtter Destruction.

This one would be war. The story of the design is I was looking for something chaotic and violent to make all players do.

Seems like we ended up on the violent side, with all creatures getting bigger and destroying permanents. I wanted something splashy and a lot of destruction, and I wanted all players to have access to it, to cause a great war. I hope this annihilator-light effect won’t be too disruptive… It would definitely shake things up a lot if played in a multiplayer game, like commander for example.

Utter RemorseUtter Remorse.

This is what is supposed to happen after a total war. If you haven’t noticed, each creature is inflicting its own strength to itself, which I thought was a nice flavour for remorse.

This is ultimately a very powerful, very build-aroundable effect and as such I wanted to make it cost a healthy amount. I ended up making it three colors instead as a parallel to Utter Destruction. I hope that works, I’m thinking you can make it great if you build around it, but you can’t do anything about your opponent’s creatures surviving if they have a higher toughness either.

That wraps it up for today. Those really make me feel like creating a cycle, but I didn’t have time and pushing for a cycle always create a chance of ending up with slightly contrived designs. Plus the two don’t actually share a mechanic. I think I’ll definitely give it a try though!

Whatever happens, I will be seeing you in 7 days. Hope you all have a great week!

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.

 

H2O

You might have guessed: today is all about blue! We are going to study two different phases of water, which now that I think of it makes me wish I had thought of making a third one.

Cone of FrostWe are starting with ice, and Cone of Frost.

Tap three creatures, one of them doesn’t untap. Simple and efficient. The name comes from Cone of Flame. In spirit, spells that make a 1-2-3 effect, such as Incremental Growth represent a cone better, but I do think 3-1 effect does a good enough job.

I based the stats on Frost Breath. While it was a powerful enough card to begin with, I replaced keeping one more creature tapped next turn with tapping a third one right now, so I think we might be ok. Very aggressive card though.

Wave of the CenturyWave of the Century.

You could call this one a spin on Upheaval. The idea is that everybody find themselves not with all their permanents in hand, but almost.
They will get to keep all 3 drops, plus 3 lands.

Starting with your opponent, everybody gets to “start again from turn 4”. One major difference though is that it costs one less than Upheaval, and as such it is going to be easier for you to cast something in the same turn as wave. I wonder if that puts Wave of the Century over the top… Do tell me what you think about it!

I was a bit rushed this week but I took out some designs from my vault of ideas, so hopefully the quality was still there. Give me feedback on those, I would love to hear what you think about them.

We shall meet again next week, until then have a great one!