Back to Basics

What’s up everybody? Welcome to Ominous Designs 176. There is a non-zero chance I bit slightly more than I should chew today, but chew I will. I started with an idea that turned into a card, a card which turned into a cycle. We are going to have some time to talk today so without further ado, here I come with your five designs of the week.

Ashes // Ashes

The original idea. Some cards have “to” in their name, so why don’t we try and pretend their are Aftermath cards just for the fun of it?

Ashes to Ashes was one of the staples of my young magic life. What would happen if I tried to split it in two? One of the reason I was particularly tempted is that it would create two Ashes halves, and I wanted to be cheeky about it. The other reason is I could be relatively faithfully do it. Ashes to Ashes killed two creatures and made you lose 5 life, this version splits those into two payments of 3 life.

Dust // Dust

As I set myself on track for remaking a few cards, it was only normal I would look into adapting Dust to Dust next. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

This one was also a simple double effect card that could be easily split into two smaller effects.
Now I should mention, my point isn’t to split those exactly in the middle. Mind you, my point isn’t either to make a completely viable version with aftermath. I aim somewhere in the middle of those, I want the reference to be a fun and somewhat plausible, albeit imperfect design.

Bash // Bits

We are now cruising in our cycle, going through names of cards containing the word “to”. While looking for a red card, I found Bash to Bits.

The amazing factoid about the card from Odysseys is that it was featuring the flashback mechanic. In that respect, our version can be almost exactly the same as the original!

Basically the only difference is that ours doesn’t reference the actual flashback mechanic so Catalyst Stone wouldn’t work.

Gnaw // The Bone

And now for the green card. Gnaw to the Bone is a famous limited role player from Innistrad and also a pretty easy one to make into an aftermath card.
Gnaw to the Bone was another flashback card, and it was also doing the same thing twice! No big deal in terms of mechanics, not too brain intensive in matter of balancing either, we just split the card in the middle!

Originally both sides even costed the same in terms of mana so the funny part here is we created two almost identical sub-cards, one with aftermath.

Reduce // Dreams

Our final, blue card is a rare! Reduce to Dreams was also an interesting one to split. Since the original was returning both all artifacts and enchantment to their owners’ hands, I am separating the two for our last design of the day.

This makes for a lot more flexible and efficient card. I took to heart to keep the mana cost overall the same here, which might have lead to a slightly undercosted combination. I also made sure to keep most of the cost for the artifact half, so as to not make it a sorcery speed Hurkyl’s Recall.

I am not going to lie, I am rather glad we are done with those! I was a fun exercise and I invite you to make more of them but they are not as interesting to debate over. I hope you enjoyed the thought process and the cards, though.

My work is done here, I will now say good day or night to you, see you next week, and play responsibly.

 

I Hate It When You Do That

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 172 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to look at hosers of a particular kind: two cards aimed at shutting down specific strategies that are pet peeves for many players. Let’s see what those are.

Current Shaper

This merfolk has one goal and one only: do away with Hexproof and protections of all kinds. Those have been deemed so unfun and non interactive that they aren’t part of the evergreen abilities any more.

I figured that only merfolks would care for an ability carried by a small body, the race being home to very strong tribal themes. Shaper has an interesting application to a True-Name Nemesis mirror match-up, deactivating the aforementioned merfolk altogether.

Stern Chaplin

Our little hate-bear arguably aims even wider, since he attacks all alternate win conditions that come on permanents.
Do you hate people randomly winning games with Azor’s ElocutorsBiovisionaryBattle of Wits and the likes? Chaplin is here for you. Note that this won’t prevent things such as Coalition Victory or Pact of Negation shenanigans, since those aren’t permanents. For some reason, even though I don’t hate alternate win cons – quite the opposite – I love the idea of referencing them all and shutting them down in such a simple way.

That’s it for the day! Two hateful – but really just for fun – designs that I hope you will like. Can you think of more of those? Do let me know.

See you next week for episode 174. Have a good one and play responsibly!

 

 

Let’s Exert Ourselves

Hey everybody, welcome to Ominous Designs 170 where we feature a new mechanic from the upcoming block Amonkhet. The mechanic is called Exert and it means you can have an extra effect from your creature in exchange for it not untapping next turn. At the time of this article there is still only one exert creature spoilt in previews and it can exert when it attacks. I am going to use that but also a new way of getting your extra value in the following two cards.

Deep-Alaria Druid

Our elf druid here is featuring a new way to use exert indeed.

The idea would be to allow exert when using an ability. If you do so, you will get a second green pip from your mana dork. In exchange you won’t see it untap the turn after.

I think the idea is pretty strong though the balance isn’t too obvious. A two mana elf that enables you to get your 5th – or 6th if you had a 1 drop mana elf too – on turn 3 is pretty ridiculous.

Rethik Battle Scout

Battle Scout is pretty simple in its use of exert. Note that I did add an ability that lasts until your next turn, which is very new and mostly featured in Hope of Ghirapur so far.

If you commit to let your soldier not untap next turn, it will gain double strike in return for the sacrifice. What makes the card very interesting though is that you can make it not tap to attack for two white mana, rendering the downside of exert irrelevant! It’s a fun spin on exert, albeit going against the original idea.

That’s going to be it for the day! Hopefully we got your creative juices flowing in time for the new set that’s about to be previewed and released. As the preview cards featuring exert come out we will see how close we got from predicting its actual use!

I shall see you next week, wish you a great time and until then play responsibly!

Copycats

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 169 of Ominous Designs. Today we are looking at cards that create copies, hence the title.
Both designs are connected to a shard of mana and I think I can contain with special about them in their description so let’s just get started, shall we?

Aurashaper

Today’s theme comes from the intent of creating a clone in Bant colors. Without looking very hard for it I came up with the idea that a green and white clone should be able to clone enchants and lands. This might seem simplistic but I think it is quite esthetically pleasing.

Why is it so hard to clone lands though? I get the feeling that there is a specific reason but I can’t put my finger on it. Do tell me if you know. As for enchantments, there is probably a way to recur this with a reanimating aura, but I haven’t found it just yet.

Graveshaper

This handsome lady – actually a shapeshifter – shows what Grixis might do with clone technology. First it copies creatures from graveyard because black, then it can also copies artifacts because red. I know they both sound very powerful but I am yet to know why either would require more than 4 mana in 3 colors.

As for the blue part, I opted for copying an instant or sorcery from the graveyard as well. This comes in the form of a Goblin Dark-Dwellers ability.
All in all this one is a really powerful package.

And that will do it for now. As usual there are checks and balances to be made here but what we care about is the creative process of making magic cards, not nearly as much the play testing and balancing aspect of it, which we know takes a whole lot more time. Getting the inspiration going is what we are all about.

I hope this fulfilled our mission, I will meet you again next week for episode 170! Until then have a great time and play responsibly.

Fusion Dance

What’s up everybody, welcome to episode 163 of Ominous Designs. Today we are going to look at a mechanic I have thought up a couple of weeks ago: fuse for creatures. If you think about it there isn’t really any reason you couldn’t fuse creatures on a double card the same way we already do for spells. This opens up a deep pocket of design space, so let’s see what we can do with it.

steadfast-captainSteadfast Captain // Hardened Captain

As you can see, on first glance this Dwarf creature will let you chose between a 1/3 vigilance for one and a white and a 3/1 trample for two red mana. Both are acceptable choices depending on the conditions you are facing, albeit not all that often in the same type of deck.
What really makes the card different though is that you can also chose to pay 1WRR for a 4/4 vigilance trample. It’s a bit of a weird creature but if you are lucky enough to have the mana on turn 4 or 5 it should be nice and serviceable.
The fact that you have a choice between the three configuration is what makes the card fun, though it turned out harder than I originally thought to make both sides acceptable at the same time as their merge version not too powerful. If anything I erred on the underpowered side of the fence for the later.

hopeful-druidHopeful Druid // Cloistered Druid

Now we’re starting to really have some fun. Admittedly Hopeful Druid is a bit too wordy but I couldn’t resist making a Golgari card that would make the milling and get-from-graveyard mechanics interacting with each other. I did so by creating an underpowered Satyr Wayfinder coming along with a weird 2/1 recycler alter-ego.
If you put those two together, get a 3/3 for 2GB that will possibly get you a land from the top 3 cards of your library, then make sure you retrieve whatever you might have thrown away by mistake into your graveyard or maybe even another more valuable creature that you already had in there.
I don’t think our Druid is perfectly tuned by any means but this should get the conversation started as I think there is a lot of potential in that sort of dynamic. Just make sure you write the abilities in as few words as possible!

That will do it for the week. As is almost always the case, I am glad to be opening a new design space with cool enough designs and more importantly inspiring food for thoughts for more cards to be created. I believe it is easily the case here and I am sure we could come up with a ton of creative creatures using this mechanic. Do let me know if you make some.

Regardless, I hope you enjoyed those, but it’s time to say bye for now. I’ll see you next week and until then have fun and play responsibly!

 

 

No Favoritism

Hello everyone, hope you are doing mighty fine as we enter episode 162 of Ominous Designs. Today we are again going to look at simple and mostly elegant designs, a trend that makes me quite happy. The mechanic at play is enter the battlefield triggers offering a modular choice that will affect both players the same, hence the title.

abjudicator-of-the-law Abjudicator of the Law

Our first card is the genesis of the mechanic. A very straight forward design that might look purely fair even though good players know that giving someone the choice to move both needles 3 life points up or down is actually a great power.
I think putting this on a 3/3 body for 3 mana makes for an excellent limited card.

I hope people won’t complain too much about making a non regenerating skeleton, this one does a good job of selling himself like the knight, immovable deliverer of the law he his.

harbinger-of-the-law Harbinger of the Law

I have a little cute theme going on with the names here. Harbinger holds the second most obvious effect I could find that would benefit both players the same, as well as grant a simple choice of doing one thing or its opposite: draw or discard cards.

I also think that in the right hands, the opportunity to make both players have one extra card or one less is rather powerful.
When it comes on a 2/2 flyer for 3, you can’t really complain. This one was meant to be a specter though, my bad.

manifestation-of-the-lawManifestation of the Law

Bonus round! I couldn’t help but try and apply the mechanic to green, but it made me go to less obvious and elegant abilities.

You can really play around the targeting triggers for this one, and attempt to either make the card very one sided, or plan best you can to get a better advantage than your opponent will. Also note that when played on its own, it can be a terrible -1/-1 spell or a 3/2 deathtouch for 2 that gives your opponent a counter. Not bad on turn two if they don’t have a creature! I meant for it to be a zombie.

Three cards again, huh? Lucky you. Do let me know what you thought of those and if you can come up with similar cards for a cycle. Fun fact is that all of those are two color black creatures, but I couldn’t come up with something that would suit a red black variation.

That is all for today, time to say have a great week, see you next time and play responsibly!

Freestyle

What’s up everybody, welcome to episode 160 of Ominous Designs. This week I brought you two cards I created within two days of recording the episode, with no particular theme to them. Good designs though, I hope.

assert-dominanceAssert Dominance

I believe this one was influenced by my great experience with Rishkar’s Expertise a the Aether Revolt pre-release, though I am pretty sure my main intent was to reproduce or fix an old design of mine you can find here.

It is a rather hard design to balance, with wild variation in power level. It can easily be a Careful Study or a Divination, but in the late game it will likely dig fairly deep into your deck.
Combine with bounce effects or pump spells for maximum effect!

sublime-battle-armorSublime Battle Armor

What can I say. If you don’t see where this is coming from you probably have never heard of Sublime Archangel.

I actually first thought that it would be a good way to somehow still get a use out of the creatures you have tap to crew a vehicle, which lead me to investigate the Exalted route.

Battle Armor looks great but it is mostly a give and take twist on the original design, which was a good card. I kept it white to fully mirror Archangel’s design.

That is all for today! As per usual do give me all your feedback on your favourite outlet, I shall see you again next week for episode 161. 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.

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!