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!

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This Isn’t Even My Final Form!

Hi everybody, you know what day it is! For today’s article we’re going to be looking at transform designs again. This time though, the cards sides are going to be of different types, as introduced in Shadows over Innistrad.

Guardian of Elaria // Guardian’s Sanctum.

Guardian of ElariaThis one starts as an inefficient creature we like to call Gray Ogre. When it dies though comma it transforms into a land! That’s unusual, isn’t it?

As I see it, guardian is a mediocre creature doubling as an overcosted ramp spell. Gray Ogres are nothing to be excited about and 3 mana colorless ramp spells that need to wait for creature interaction aren’t either but having two in a single card is still great value. Keep in mind that by the time the creature dies, the extra mana might be less relevant.

Volarian Duelist // Vicious Cut

Volarian DuelistNow for the design that inspired me with this article: Volarian Dualist.

This guy starts starts as a much better creature. This is because his real purpose is board presence and creature interaction. To that effect, I gave duelist more toughness and vigilance, which will in incite your opponent to deal with it. Getting rid of him won’t be easy though, as that would require a 3/3 or 3/2 and even then, it will leave a mark. The creature that killed him will be inflicted with a smaller Stab Wound. I really love that idea.

The resulting creature might be slightly too good but that’s why I made it uncommon; I wanted an exciting creature to feature this creative design.

That’s it for today! A new week, two new exciting concepts I will need balancing and play testing. What’s new? Do let me know if you think they need to be tweaked and how.
Now time has come to me to say have a great week and see you next time!

Transformalicious

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 125 of Ominous Designs. This week we’re going back to the designs of Innistrad and with a couple of cards revolving around the transform mechanic – hence the title. Let’s get started with actually not a transform card, but a removal spell.

Gloom Moons CurseGloom Moon’s Curse is a fringe removal, way more useful than you might expect in Innistrad, considering the plethora of tokens present in the format like humans, devils, spirits, etc. If you have played with Dual Shot in limited you should agree.
It isn’t the best solution against them but in a pinch, it will do.
Now the really interesting part to is to put this aura on creatures that will transform, especially ones that can’t help it. This is almost better than Bound by Moonsilver for things like werewolves or even Archangel Avacyn herself.
All in all a nice little package that you might even want to main deck in limited.

Ulvenwald Ranger // Hungered Howler

Ulvenwald Ranger

The idea behind this one was to create a werewolf who could punish your opponents for not playing any spell several times in a row. The issue with the usual lycanthropes of Innistrad is that in order to transform to their wolf selves they need to be human first. This ranger doesn’t have that issue since he is able to master the beast within and flip himself back just before turning wolf again automatically because your silly enemies spent another turn doing nothing.

Deciding what ability to give such a werewolf was the tricky part, as the idea was to make the repeatable. I toyed with the idea of adding +1/+1 counters and the issue here would have been that flipping back to human would do very little – the counters would have stayed on the creature. Instead I ended up creating a werewolf who is always hangry for one turn only, then I suppose digests his meal before becoming human and hopefully turn back again very soon. Thankfully, being a 2/2 for 2 there is a lot of space in what you can do with the upside, and I think this one is still pretty sweet.

Those are your designs for the day. Another example of good ideas that I wish I had more time to do delve into. The cards aren’t perfect but pretty fun and hopefully will start some interesting conversations.

I hope you enjoyed, now is time to say have a great week and see you next time!