Ben Takes On The Great Designer Search, Part 2: Pictures and Holes
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Welcome back to my second go-around at having some fun with the Great Designer Search! In this series of articles, I take on the weekly challenges given to the contestants of the Great Designer search. Why? Because it's fun, and because I find design and development interesting. Before we get started on this week's challenge, let's see how I did with last week's cards.
Comments: These were the 2/2 guys for three that either searched for a land from your deck and put it in your hand, or had an effect. There were three trains of thought from the forums: There are great, or nobody will ever use the non-search ability, or these are hacky off-color mana fixers.
Well, there's a little truth to each of these. I tend to think that the non-search abilities aren't useless – compare to Venerable Monk, or Telepathic Spies, both of which often see play in draft environments. These might not be amazing in Constructed (Civic Wayfinder is a lot less restrictive, and it's seen virtually no Standard play), but the non-search abilities are relevant in limited.
As far as skewing the color pie, yes, that is true. However, I think that this ability is one you could argue isn't relevant to Green at this point. Compare these cards to Fetch lands (colorless), the Signets from Ravnica Block (Artifacts), or any other ridiculously good Limited color fixer from recent years. Are these really that far off from Terramorphic Expanse? Green gets mana acceleration, but these are mana-fixing, and this is an ability that's shown up as a common cycle in the past (the Scourge land cyclers) and as a secondary White ability (Tithe/Land Tax/Gift of Estates) in the present. It's not like these are one-drop Elves or two-drop Rampant Growths that put lands straight into play.
These Instants revealed the top X cards of your library, and then had an effect based on the cards revealed. Many liked these as well (and I personally think these were the best of the cards I made for last week's article), but some felt the effects were too random for limited play.
The White one is definitely bad. I tried to get too cute with the design of the card, but ended up having it be a bad version of Holy Day. The Red one should have been a Pyroclasm or Sulfurous Blast-type effect (and not an Earthquake/Sorcery effect, as discussed on the forums). Maybe RR3, reveal the top 4: Deal X damage to all creatures and players, where X is the number of lands revealed. I like the Black one, and it's a powerhouse in Constructed. The Green one might be too powerful, but man, I'm all for giving Green the best card in a cycle once in a while. The Blue one does swing and miss frequently. One suggestion made in the forums was to increase the cost to U2, and make it draw you a card if you miss on the reveal. That seems like a fine tweak to the card.
These need a lot of work. The Green one is templated all wrong (it should put lands into play under your opponent's control), and half of them are too narrow/force a style of play. The White one is the best of the five, as far as design goes. The Red one is super-boring, and the Black one is possibly too easy to win with. All in all, the weakest of my five cycles.
This week's Designer Challenge gave the remaining contestants the following quandary: There are ten cards that need to be made, and they all have narrow descriptions (From MagicTheGathering.com):
We need an answer to all the token making in the environment. Be subtle.
We're looking for a weird Johnny-style enchantment
We need a sorcery. No card filtering or drawing. No bounce (a.k.a. returning cards to hand).
We need a creature. Something splashy for Timmy.
Make an aura you want to put on your own creatures.
Can be anything.
Instant or sorcery. No direct damage or destruction (artifact or land).
Creature. Want a build around me for draft (a.k.a. something that will encourage players to go down a path or paths he or she wouldn't normally had they not drafted this card early; examples of this type of card are Lightning Rift, Mark of Eviction and Momentary Blink).
Creature. Something that costs four or more mana.
To make the challenge even harder, these cards must be shoehorned into one of ten pictures provided. This is complete top-down design – you have a picture and a concept, you have to design a card around them. You can view the pictures here.
Each contestant was given 72 hours to come up with their cards. In the spirit of keeping the same rules in place for both myself and the other contestants, I gave myself 72 hours to design the ten cards for this challenge. I also did not read past the rules of this article – I have no clue what the other designers came up with, but I fully intend to take a look as soon as I send this article off to Craig!
Each designer-to-be also got 150 words to defend/embiggen (yes, Embiggen. That's awful Cromulent of me) their designs. I'll give myself 150 words at the end as well.
Card #1: White Uncommon (We need an answer to all the token making in the environment. Be subtle.)
Purity of Dissolution (Uncommon)
Sunburst (This comes into play with a charge counter on it for each color of mana used to pay its cost.)
Remove a charge counter from ~this~: Remove target creature from the game. At end of turn, return that creature to play.
Card #2: White Rare (We're looking for a weird Johnny-style enchantment)
Gerrard’s Unity (Rare)
1W: All creatures you control have power equal to the highest power creature you control until end of turn.
1W: All creatures you control have toughness equal to the highest toughness creature you control until end of turn.
1W: All creatures have all activated abilities of all other creatures you control until end of turn.
Card #3: Blue Common (We need a sorcery. No card filtering or drawing. No bounce)
Ice Ray (Common)
Tap target creature. It doesn't untap during its controller's next untap step.
Card #4: Blue Rare (We need a creature. Something splashy for Timmy)
Sath, Great Teacher (Rare)
UU4, Legendary Creature – Human Wizard
Wizards spells you play cost 1 less to play.
U2: Other Wizards you control have “Tap: Deal 1 damage to target creature or player” until end of turn.
UU2: Other Wizards you control gain Flying until end of turn.
UU, tap Two Wizards you control: Draw a card.
Card #5: Black Uncommon (Make an aura you want to put on your own creatures.)
BB2, Enchantment – Aura
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a torment counter on ~this~. Then, target creature gets -1/-1 for each torment counter on ~this~.
Card #6: Black Rare (Can be anything)
Daru Witch Hunt (Rare)
Each player's maximum hand size is 3 minus the number of clerics you control.
Card #7: Red Common (Instant or sorcery. No direct damage or destruction)
Planewalker's Dissent (Common)
All creatures attack this turn if able.
All creatures block this turn if able.
Card #8: Red Uncommon (Creature. Want a build around me for draft)
Goblin Deathfeeder (Uncommon)
RR3, Creature – Goblin Mutant
Whenever a Goblin comes into play under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on ~this~ and deal 1 damage to target creature or player.
R, Sacrifice a Goblin: Target creature cannot block this turn.
Card #9: Green Common (Creature. Something that costs four or more mana.)
Shielding Monk (Common)
G3, Creature – Human Monk
Morph 1G (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost)
When ~this~ is turned face up, target creature can't be the target of spells or effects this turn.
Card #10: Green Rare (Non-creature spell. Green's lacking in “wow” factor (a.k.a. something that will impress the player by how different it is))
If you would play a creature card, you may remove it from the game instead. If you do, put two token creatures into play that are copies of the card removed from the game by ~this~.
I think WW2 was the right cost of Ray of Dissolution - it allows for a maximum of three counters on the card. Daru Witch Hunt might be a little too good, but it feels Black, and I think is the best card I made for this week. Planeswalker's Dissent might be too swingy for Limited play as a common, but I think it'd be a good Wave of Indifference/Panic Attack type effect. Sath has some neat effects that you'd associate with Blue/Wizards. I know that memory issues are supposed to stay out of common (Ice Ray), but I felt that the effect was simple enough that having an effect last into the next turn wasn't too far of a break (especially for a simple tap down effect). I didn't have to match the arts with the blocks, but hey – never know if this might be a Time Spiral type set!
As usual, discussion about how I did is encouraged in the forums. See you next week!