Riches

Hello everyone and welcome to episode 134 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to look at modal spells. This isn’t the first time, so let’s try and make it a little special. We are going to look at three cards with four modes each, some of which we have never seen before…

Planned BetrayalFirst is Planned Betrayal.

Most of those modes make a build-your-own Threaten effect. The fun part here is that you can have it be instant speed, which we know is great on those effects.

If you choose to cast it sorcery speed though, you will get a bonus +2/+0 for your trouble. The other interesting bit is that you don’t even have to use all modes on the same target. You might even pick modes to create some weird combat trick.
On a side note, I do hope it’s within the rules to pick flash as a mode when casting a spell.

Planned MachinationsPlanned Machinations is a simpler design.

The original mode here is can’t be countered. For the rest, we are making a blue cantrip. Power level wise, I based myself on something below Preordain but most likely better than Serum Visions.

I also based the design on the assumption that the modes will resolve in the same order they appear on the card, which I believe is true.
Those could easily be tweaked if needed for power level, as I did when creating the card, toying with different positions for the Draw a card mode.

Planned ExplorationI couldn’t help but make a third card this week!
Planned Exploration wants to do every thing ramp.

It’s an expensive card though, which should help containing the power level for such effect. As far as I can tell the most you could get out of it is two extra land drops and untapping a land, which makes it close to Explosive Vegetation.

It definitely looks like it could be broken somehow though, and it would be at least fun in cube storm. Thinking back, maybe I didn’t need to restrict it to basic lands though.

I had a fantastic time building those, so I hope you will enjoy reading about them. Let me know what you think!
I’ll be seeing you next time for episode 135. Have a great week!

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From Above

Hi everybody. Today for episode 133 of Ominous Designs we are going to do something different than usual: top down designs from illustrations. What I did in the video is I went through some images I have sitting in my vault, picked the most evocative ones and created cards based on what they inspired me. As a consequence there is extra value to my Twitch/Youtube clips this week, so don’t hesitate to check them out!

Brutal AssaultBrutal Assault.

This one should be easy to figure out. I loved the idea that this was an action picture, and that it was mostly green. A fight spell seemed to be the obvious choice here.

Since we are doing flavour designs, I had to go for the Samurai writer here. With a base of one extra mana on Prey Upon original casting cost, I think it works quite well and is a somehow playable spell for limited, maybe even good in a set that actually includes samurais. Maybe we will need it when we go back to Kamigawa…

Lithomancer ShepherdLithomancer Shepherd.

As mandated, this illustration is as well very flavourful. The stone golem being raised just has to be an awoken mountain from Zendikar!
I had a quick look and to my great surprise only one red card – Boiling Earth – features the mechanic Awaken.
Since the visual focus is on the Shaman here, I tried to enable him to create multiple elementals. Shepherd now basically creates a 2/2 for 2 – or reinforces a land with 2 +1/+1 counters – every time you cast an instant or sorcery, which I think is nice but far from too powerful.

Simple, straight forward, flavourful. Yes? This week I am rather happy with both the creative and the power level of the cards. None of them are too good but they are definitely fine enough for limited, perhaps even casual constructed.

I hope you enjoyed those as well, don’t hesitate to comment on them either way! Now is time to bid you farewell for this week, so see you next time and have a great one!

 

Buy One, Get Another One

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 130 of ominous designs. Today we’re going to look at mashup of famous magic effects and we’ll do that with a red and a white card. First, we will look at the white design.

Start a WarStart a War is an obvious combination of Journey to Nowhere and some Anthem effect. The real question here is can it really cost only four?

We have seen the ol ring effect cost as little as 2, most likely 3 and maybe 4 in recent history. For the anthem, last ones have been either restricted for 2, or had an extra effect for 3.
This would put our card at a minimum virtual 4.5 mana. I wanted to make it constructed playable so I put it at a very aggressive 4 mana price tag. I’m not sure it would be all that popular for 5 since anthem decks tend to want to curve out faster than that. What do you think. Reasonable?

Shamanic TranceShamanic Trance is arguably even more pushed in terms of mana cost.
As you can see I took Threaten end tacked on a red draw effect. The thing is I didn’t really up the cost of the spell! What I did make it cost 2 red which is the base cost of cards like Harness by Force and there’s something else:
red draw is very sensitive to how much mana you have left, and so is Threaten. As such, unless you have five or six mana available – in red aggro! – and a cheap card on top of your deck, Trance shouldn’t do anything too crazy. The card is definitely pushed for constructed though, do let me know what you think of its cost.

Those are your designs for today, this was a fun exercise and I kind want to make more competitive card mashups in the future. Not sure when exactly but I’ll be sure to let you know.
For now, time to say have a great week and see you next time!

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!