Breeding Pool

Hello again everybody, and welcome for episode 154 of Ominous Designs. This week I am putting on my mad scientist hat and proudly bring you a Zompire and a Spidrit! What are those you might ask, an air of incredulity on your face and a vague sense of fear taking over you? Well, why don’t we just have a look?

kelh-val-deathless-overseerKehl Val, Deathless Overseer

This, my friends, is a Zompire. As it turns out none of his kind ever saw print before. What a shame.

In substance, a pretty simple mashup of +1/+1 mechanics, related to both the zombie nation – coming back from graveyards – and the vampire family – getting bigger when hitting a player apparently is a vampire thing.

The power level is quite high, but for a 4 mana 3/3 legendary creature, it should be fine. The abilities exist on commons 2-3 drops after all.

lothna-hauntweaverLothna, Hauntweaver

Now I’m introducting the Spider Spirit! First one as well. Quite a gorgeous creature.

I had a harder time, here. It is in fact not easy to find common ground between two creature types that are mainly defined by having either flying or reach. I decided to give pseudo-flying to my spiders so that everyone has some evasion, and tried my best to reward creatures for connecting with an opponent by awarding them new tokens.
I am just sorry the end result takes 9 lines of text, because I really like most of the ideas in there.

What do you say? Would you ever create a zombie/vampire or spirit/spider commander deck? Seems to me that would open the door to some fun combinations. I reckon this is the kind of casual fun that commander players love to build around. You tell me!

Now is time to say goodbye though. I wish you all a great thanksgiving and hope you can relax and enjoy some family and a ton of food. I’ll do that as well and I shall see you next week. Play responsibly!

 

Remaking Magic

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 149 or Ominous Designs. Today we are going to set on a mission to fix some of the most powerful and what some might say broken designs of older days of Magic the Gathering. Our two patients – victims? – are Shahrazad and Umezawa’s Jitte.

story-timeStory Time
What makes it so that Shahrazad is banned in all formats? In great part it is that it takes forever to play games within games. To make it faster, Story Time’s subgame ends as soon as one life or one creatures is lost, each player can keep a creature to start, and life totals are not changed. This should allow us to use a simpler reward for the winner, like an extra turn and some life.
I now realize do that first part being triggered ability breaks the design – a player can still remove a creature in response to the trigger and win the subgame – which needs to be addressed. Maybe making it a cast trigger would work?

kondas-tachiKonda’s Tachi

This one is pretty straightforward. Of course keeping counters on the equipment itself is great, but what makes Umezawa’s Jitte truly ridiculous is the fact that it depends on combat damage to anything, creature or player, and that it creates two counters each time. In fact, only getting one counter each turn when hitting a player, probably makes Konda’s Tachi slightly under powered.

If it is, we can easily fix that by adding some evasion to the equipment itself – skulk, trample? – and/or perhaps tweaking the modes.

I am happy with the equipment but I wish I had noticed the issue with our new Shahrazad earlier. There is a chance using a cast trigger fixes most of the issues and at the end of the day, an abusable 5 mana card that gives you an extra turn isn’t the end of the world unless it’s recursive. The biggest downside remains that the design is still very wordy and sometimes might still make the game last a fair bit longer.

That’s it for the week, I will see you next time for the big 150! I hope you are as excited as I am. I have more than one surprise in store for you, so you should tune in to the Responsible Gaming channel to see the live episode next Tuesday night, around 7PM PST.

See you in seven days and until then, play responsibly!

 

The Haunting

Hey all, welcome to Ominous Designs 146. Our title today, The Haunting, tells us a bit about the process behind a new mechanic. That mechanic is called Imbue, and it’s a combination of Haunt, Bestow and potentially Cipher.

We are going to look at three different rarities of mostly simple implementation of the mechanic, – french vanilla if you will – and next week we will try and do some fancier things with it.

galewingGalewing is our common, and the usual blue flyier, except this time it is not a Wind Drake. It borrows more from Gravity Negator.
As you can see, the idea with imbue is that when your creature dies, it will lend some of its power to another creature until that one dies.

With flying, it is tricky to balance power level since depending on the situation, the imbue ability could be quite powerful.
When in doubt though, I go back to Nimbus Naiad and tell myself that for 5 mana I could have +2/+2 flying as well as a 2/2 flyer, so there is still a chance that our version is reasonable.

gleambearer-elementalGleambearer Elemental.

For the uncommon, we are looking at a smaller creature. I first considered using first strike for this one but didn’t like the potential swinginess of it.

I went for lifelink, giving us something similar to Hopeful Eidolon. As eidolon taught us, giving lifelink to a big creature can be quite the pain in the butt, so even if the power might be fine, I don’t think we would what it to be a common thing.

Still, Gleambearer is a tight little designs and a pretty great 2 drop if you ask me.

blazelasherBlazelasher.
Our rare is red, and angry! A double striker who gives double strike to another creature should be a lot of fun to play.

I danced around for a bit, trying to figure out what the cost of a 2/2 double strike should be, seeing things like 2 mana for Scourge Wolf or 4 for Hounds of Griselbrand. I think we should be good at 3 mana, just looking at Silverblade Paladin and Arashin Foremost which mostly have better upsides.
The one remaining question is should red have access to those stats, and I don’t see why not.

This is it for the week! I am happy with the design. It is not the most creative but definitely solid and tight. I cannot really think of a reason it would be a developmental problem and I can on the other hand imagine it be fun to play with. Hope you will agree! If you don’t just let me know why.

That is all for the week, I will see you next time for episode 147. Until then, play responsibly!

From Above Part. 2

Hello everybody and welcome to episode 144 of Ominous Designs, inaugurating a series for which I have been publishing entries for a while now, and is titled From Above. As you might have guessed this is top-down designs we are talking about. Top-down design is when I think of a character or object, mostly independently Magic, and then make the concept fit the game.

Every now and then I don’t have a particular idea for a theme and I will browse through my vault of ar, pick a couple nice ones and make cards out of them. To illustrate this, let’s now have a look at a big creature, a big enchantment and a big artifact, all of those in only 3 cards! Isn’t that exciting.

Sea TyrantSea Tyrant.
Doesn’t he look amazing? I couldn’t resist making a card for what seemed to be an obvious Titan. This second ever blue giant is also an elemental though, and his power is mostly inferior to that of Frost Titan. Pretty high bar that was, though; I’m quite certain Tyrant still do quite the job at finishing games, with his large body and good ability.

Tapping three creatures when attacking is no small feat, even though you aren’t likely to do that more than once. His interaction with Master of Waves is pretty amazing but I would venture still acceptable. Tell me if you think so as well.

Gateway to NyxGateway to Nyx.
Talk about a top-down design, right here! What I saw in this illustration was the combination of the starfield of Nyx and some more earthly human construct which inspired me with a design turning artifacts into enchantments.

The end result is pretty wordy but in a nutshell, at the beginning of your upkeep you can recycle an artifact into an enchantment and at the end you can do the opposite. You can even trade Gateway for say a Duplicant in the same turn you played it! I tried to keep the power level in check but this is still some potent piece of Magic technology.

You know what I am the most glad about? Not having to pick a different title for every top-down article! It’s the little things that count… A series is a good thing to have, so everybody should be happy now. I do like the cards as well, so I hope you will have good things to say about them.

I will leave it as that for now, see you next week and until then: play responsibly!

 

Fast Auras

Hi everybody, welcome again to Ominous Designs. This time we are doing our 143rd episode and I am going to solve try solving the issue with Aura cards which is : what if it doesn’t even hit the battlefield because the target is removed in response? Our live episode was a bumpy one as it started with the assumption that Split Second would solve all of our problems, only to realize mid-stream that it only insures the enchantments does come into play but doesn’t help with the fact you are committing two cards on one creature. Regardless, I proceeded on creating two auras with a guaranteed trigger.

Migth of the PackMight of the Pack.

I first toyed around with an aura split between a static and a temporary effect, only to discover that you could still destroy the targeted creature and get rid of both. My next move would be to allow targeting any creature.
Split Second will ensure the card will enter the battlefield, and your opponent will have two bigger creatures to deal with, unless of course you decided to target only one, in which case you are still under the threat of a single card taking care of the two of yours and of your temporary +4/+4 trample creature.

Revenge CommitteeVengeance Committee.
I went through all the recent auras and I found a couple that would benefit from being guaranteed.
One of them is Murder Investigation. Getting a lot of 1/1 is a desirable effect and with Split Second we find ourselves with something pretty close to a Sorcery that says create X 1/1 where X is the power of target creature. Pretty good for 3, isn’t it?
I started by attempting to create a card one could consider play in Bogles, but gave up. Now I think you might consider siding one of those if you think one of your huge hexproof creatures is still likely to die.

Split second is a 7 on the storm scale, which means it isn’t very likely to come back but if you ask me, everything that is even remotely possible will end up happening again considering how many sets we’re going through nowadays. It is also slightly surprising that the only Split Second aura ever created was a control magic effect but since there was only one altogether I suppose it had to be arbitrary.

That will be it for today! Like I said before I didn’t end up achieving exactly what I had in mind originally but at the very least this was good food for thoughts. I hope you liked the cards and/or got some inspiration from them. I will see you next week for another episode and another theme and until then, play responsibly!

New Legends

Hello everybody, and welcome to episode 137 of Ominous Designs. The topic for today came to me while browsing /r/custommagic. What we are going to do is create legendary creatures for subtypes that never had one. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be a pegasus and a wurm.

Pelianos Mount of the GodsPelianos, Mount of the Gods. Didn’t think how close the name was from Paliano – main city in Conspiracy – at the time…
It seemed pretty obvious that the pegasus should serve as a mount to other legendary creatures.
I toyed with the idea of implementing this myself but in the end nothing serves this purpose as well as bestow does.
I based the design on the better version of limited all star Nimbus Naiad. I needed to make the legendary creature better so costed it more aggressively, seeing that its extra ability was a fringe one: the faithful companion is ready sacrifice himself to save his legendary friends.

Talath Volarian SovereinTalath, Volarian Soverein.
This one was harder to come up with. Wurms are not your typical sentient and charismatic legendary creatures! I also hoped to make it a Naya creature so it could serve as a commander for a deck containing most existing wurms. After playing around with the idea of a big creature with activated abilities granting keywords from various colors, I discovered I could afford up to 6 of them as long as I picked them well.

So this guy does have a ton but I don’t even think he is more threatening then Soul of Theros or Akroma. In the end he looks like a Naya Cromat.

Those are your – legendary – creatures for the day. Let me know if you think of some other types that need a hero to represent them.
I hope you all have a great time, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Benefit from Experience

 

Hey everybody, welcome to episode 136 of Ominous Designs. I was inspired this week and I came up with the idea of doing experience counter a different way. Let’s see what it looks like, shall we?

Davkas SermonFirst we have Davka’s Sermon.

The original experience cards from Commander 2015 only care but how many counters exactly you have, and give you a linear reward.
This time, the card wants to know if you have more than your opponent. If you do, you are going to get nice exile effect. I could obviously not just turning the card on and off based on experience, so if you don’t have enough you still get small tap effect.

Overall the design is largely based on New Phyrexia’s Dispatch.

Huntsmans GearHuntsman’s Gear.

This experience counter theme opens up a huge design space so what I want to do now is use it for yet another card type. It will be an Aura.

Gear is very straightforward. It will make your creature bigger the more experience counters you have. What’s a actually new here is the introduction of thresholds.
If you have more than 3 experience counters, you get trample, and if you have more the 5 you can regenerate. If you think about it it’s pretty close to the level up mechanic.

And those are you cards for the week. Like I said the design spaces is great and easy to explore, so the cards came naturally and are reasonably clean and elegant. As tradition demands I will note that they might very well need to be balanced a notch, but that’s a task for play testing and the upcoming peer review, when I broadcast this article on my favourite social outlets, rather than during our free flow design session.

Now that’s really it for this article. I hope you enjoyed, I’ll be seeing you next week for 137. Have a good one!

 

Things Used To Be Free

Hello and welcome to episode 132 of Ominous Designs. I had complete random inspiration this week, and decided I would add to the cycle of Force of Will. To my knowledge only Contagion, in black, follows the same pattern but today we are making a white card and a green card.

Cosmic RayCosmic Ray is first.
The effect that you get here is a pseudo removal of the fairly rare kind previously seen in Celestial Flare. We won’t have much to say about the 5 mana cost that I kept from the cycle, but rather ask ourselves: can this be free?
Removal is a basic effect, albeit powerful, but the fact is there are plenty of great ones for as little as 1 mana – or 0 for Slaughter Pact – and the question almost becomes do you want to pay to cards for it? It seems great against combo decks based on a creature, – hello Griselbrand – and I could imagine hate bears or death and taxes be all over this, but I’m not even sure at all.

Might of the WildThe green card is Might of the Wild.
I started by creating a card that ended up being much less powerful than Invigorate, and yet I was really afraid it would be to good for legacy infect. When I discovered it about Invigorate I decided my card would be a mini Overrun instead.
For this one I have to say I am not sure who would actually need it. Maybe Zoo decks? You would be looking at a deck going wide, with a multitude of creatures and yet having an extra spare card to spend instead of mana for the final effect.
The good part is even with the full price you’re going to get something very similar to the original Overrun, which is good but not played still.

Quick mention that I just realized not having changed the color of the card you have to exile to pay the alternate costs. It is very much an error and Cosmic Ray should exile a white card, Might of the Wild a green one.
That’s going to be it for the day though! This one was particularly hard. I didn’t want either boring or overpowered designs! Turns out that’s a tall order for free cards.

I hope you enjoyed the designs though, I’ll be seeing you next week for more. Until then have a good 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!

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!