Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day -6: Picture This

These cards are in response to the challenge "Picture This" from the first Great Designer Search. To summarize, the challenge was simulating the situation of designing cards to fill in holes so late in development that all the art is already in. So, in addition to designing ten cards that each need to meet specific requirements, it had to match one of ten pieces of art provided.

So, here are the ten cards:

White (uncommon)
We need an answer to all the token making in the environment. Be subtle.

Clerics from Onslaught block are surrounding a fighting-type guy. This guy looks uncomfortable among his peers. I thought of him feeling ashamed, then tied the "flicker" effect to feel like he took a temporary leave of absence. And, of course, tokens cease to exist when they leave the battlefield.

My one concern is whether the fact that all tokens have the same name is too obscure for enough players to use this as a token-hoser.

White (rare)
We're looking for a weird Johnny-style enchantment

In addition to a guy in very white civilized clothes, there's a zombie in the background. This implies that there's some tango-ing with non-white creatures. One way to explain this is that these are the enemy creatures.

The challenge for the player is being able to keep up life-gain and managing the number of creatures you control to maximize your chances of triggering this ability. You'd pretty much have to build your deck around this card to accomplish this. Go, Johnny, go!

To make it feel more like random creatures from your opponent's army are swayed by your diplomacy skills, I had the opponent choose the creature. And it's more interesting that way. Bringing over the best creature from one side to the other can turn the tables quite a bit and the focus on this enchantment then fades away.

Blue (common)
We need a sorcery. No card filtering or drawing. No bounce (aka returning cards to hand).

This card shows the mage discharging two streams of magic. And there's blue hues. Thus, the two targets in this blue card. The mechanic here is like Sleep, but I wanted to tap into other card types to further explore the "sleep" effect. Of course, since it can affect noncreatures, the flavor was changed to simple holding magic. It's "nonland" to prevent players from keeping an opponent's mana base tied down.

Blue (rare)
We need a creature. Something splashy for Timmy.

Go, go, Shapeshifter lord! In the art, instead of showing the "real guy" and the "fake guy", it's actually the Doppelganger of the Urn (so, he's fake) passing on his copy to another Shapeshifter (great, another fake!).

Black (uncommon)
Make an aura you want to put on your own creatures.

I'm a little wary of whether the restrictions on this card aren't severe enough. First of all, your most expensive card will have to decide between being used for whatever it was summoned for (attacking, for example) and tutoring. Also, I wanted to make sure that whatever creature was enchanted really did feel like the superior one, as depicted in the art. Secondly, it's vulnerable being on a creature.

Black (rare)

The idea here is that you're given the gift of storytelling, entertainment, and humor (a jester's gift), but the "Fool's" part shows that it comes with just the opposite (Fool's Curse). The gift is also a curse. The curse slowly is killing the enchanted creature, which means that the zombie-looking guy used to not be such a zombie-looking guy.

Also, the enchanted creature is "entertaining" creatures from participating in combat (the crowd in the background), thus the exiling. It's not until the entertainer passes away that the creatures remember that they've got a duty to attend to. I would have put "can't attack or block" instead of exiling using joke counters, but that's more white. So, I took a page from the "faceless" book, and temporarily exiled them.

Red (common)
Instant or sorcery. No direct damage or destruction (artifact or land).

The red background and the emotions depicted on these faces tilted toward a red card for me. This card design is a little unorthodox is very much designed "top down". The moment here is being filled with rage after being informed that a fellow comrade has died.

Red (uncommon)
Creature. Want a build around me for draft (aka 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 RiftMark of Eviction andMomentary Blink).

The art depicts an Orgg. I love Orggs. Also, there are only four Orggs in Magic, and the most recent one printed was actually a reprint of the original Orgg in Time Spiral block. Wizards of the Coast, print another Orgg, please! But, anyway, yeah.

All Orggs previously have been rare and big. This has to be an uncommon. And uncommon red creatures are not typically 6/6. What to do? Bam, a baby Orgg, But, it has metal on its skin. Like a karate chop solution, the title explains that the metal is soldered on from melting down artifacts. We've got our build-around: artifacts!

And, finally, it's be sad to have your ever-growing Orgg be chump blocked for a while, or even killed by enough creatures. Thus, Intimidate is there! Besides, who WOULDN'T run from a monster with four metal arms?

Green (common)
Creature. Something that costs four or more mana.

This one was a toughie. The images here don't scream "green". For this art, the green cape hues, the hand-crafted weapons he's wielding, and the morph creature husk (I made it seem like it's just an artifact. It's hard to tell, so I could get away with it to the untrained eye.) were justifications for this being in green.

So, destroying an artifact, check. But, it needed something more. We already have Viridian Shaman for ETB artifact destruction (I'm hoping that this guy is fine at common depending on which environment he comes from), so I looked to the art for clues. He looked like he was surfing that explosion, so I thought of how he was riding along with a spell being cast to help him to his destination (landing on an artifact at instant speed!).

Green (rare)
Non-creature spell. Green's lacking in "wow" factor (aka something that will impress the player by how different it is).

The trick here was that instead of making it seem like that metallic object is breaking itself open to shoot out a beam of colorful destruction on a dude, you make it seem like that you broke the artifact yourself and caused it to rupture a beam of colorful hate from within itself. You just turned a metallic object on the enemy's side into your own weapon.

Since it has all the colored rings, I chose green for this since green's the color that is most in tune with dealing with all five colors, being the land color and mana-fixing color. And because it's a green spell, I needed you to depend on land types and having the different land types allow you access to those color's effects. 

I like how it's flexible for whatever green/X-color deck you want to make.

So, that's that. Now, to move on to the next challenge, which should be my most challenging, yet: Un-cards.




  1. I remember reading that challenge, and what stands out the most to me is how unbelievably harsh the judges were.

    That said, you probably would've gotten some penalties on the cards "Master's Tutelage" and "Unsettling News."

    You worry about how the cost for Tutelage is not enough, and otherwise id say there's a huge restriction on it as is. By the time you cast it, you should have almost enough mana to cast anything, and that it grants a Diabolic Tutor ability. One change i would make is to instead tag a mana cost to the ability and remove the tap cost (the {T}, not the tap another creature), in case it was cast with something like Dark Ritual (a clever workaround i just thought of, if i do say so myself).
    A side note: the spell may become uncastable if your highest mana-costing creature has shroud.

    As far as Unsettling News goes, you would probably be marked down by the judges due to the amount of text on the card (for a common)
    Everything else seems solid to me though, so good work!

  2. Thanks, man, this really helps. I really like the idea of putting a mana cost on the activated ability (probably 2BB for flavor) and it would even make sense as the apprentice is getting exhausted from the tutoring as the master dispenses the knowledge.

    Yes, well, with shroud, I guess you'd be out of luck, then. It's either I have it as "Enchant creature" or have that clause. I just don't like the idea of putting it on some random token and cheesing out some cards when that doesn't help the flavor.

    As for Unsettling News, you might be right. Even though the effect isn't so powerful, it can still be too lengthy if I don't try hard enough to make it concise. Must do better next time!

    Well, I'll be focusing on churning out the Un-cards instead of tweaking this cards given how much time I have left (I want to be able to say I did the whole challenge before doing the sequel.).

    Good luck, mang!



  3. A neat cycle - I like how the art tends to very much feel aligned with the color of the card, and each one has an interesting effect.

    My one complaint would be that the enchant condition on Tutelage seems confusing, especially for new players (what happens if I play something more expensive?) and it's a bit of a "win more" card for experienced players.

    Maybe enchant creature with converted cost 4+? Or make it cheaper, but enchant a creature with cost 6+? It's definitely got some fun Timmy potential if it can be made clearer :)

  4. Thanks, Melissa. I do hope that the art does match up since that's the first thing I did before I designed any of cards.

    I do agree with you about Master's Tutelage. I like the suggestion of a set number converted mana cost. Anyway, taking into consideration this series of cards from Scourge:[among]+[the]+[highest]+[converted]+[mana]+[cost]+[permanents]

    is it still complicated because of the fact that it's combining "enchant creature" with the "with the highest converted mana cost among creatures you control?"

    Either way, it does need fixing as it is. I'd like to make the activation cost use 2BB at least (I like enhancing the nod toward Diabolic Tutor.) That way the cost for casting the spell can be lower, too.

    Thanks again!



  5. I had to look up rule 303.4c to see whether the enchantment would remain in play if you cast a larger creature (the answer is no). Anything where casual players have to look up a rule strikes me as overly complex, and the sort of card WOTC would avoid printing :)

  6. Fair enough! I can see how the clause can create confusion for the casual player ("Does it move to my next biggest creature when I cast it?"). I don't want to expect them to know the nuances of the rules.

    I'm a big proponent of supporting the casual player crowd, and you've delivered a home run winning point here.

    Not that casual players can't know as much rules as somebody hardcore or competitive. ;D



  7. It doesn't look to me like the Doppelganger actually works. Shapeshifters, unless otherwise specified, typically lose their creature types when they ETB, and they certainly lose their abilities.

    As a more general comment on your designs, you seem to rely a lot on "If you cast a spell this turn" or variants on "if X happened" this turn. It's a pretty rare wording on cards, because it's not really fun to have to keep track of spells that have been cast or stuff that happened during the turn. I don't know if it's intentional, but it looks to me like a leak or crutch in your design, and it's not really something I like to see on cards.

    I absolutely love some of your other cards, though - the Avatar cycle is awesome especially.

  8. Oh, no! You're right, OxyFrog. I had forgotten that they do lose their type. That's not good! Forgetting might be worse than not knowing. I have to make sure this ever happens again with the upcoming GDS2. Thanks.

    As for your more general comment, I do notice a lot of "if"s conditional stuff. When I decide on an effect, sometimes it's necessary (like with a counterspell that checks to see if the spell was actually countered in that way for an effect to happen); and, of course, the cycle of emblem-giving sorceries count as one instance of a decision to include conditions requiring the use of memory.

    Perhaps that cycle is a great example of how I use it as a crutch. I honestly did explore all sorts of solutions to make the player work for their emblem in those spells, but it seems maybe my design behavior I'm not aware of gravitated toward that solution, anyway.

    I might've missed this phenomenon when I was caught up in fulfilling the requirements of GDS1's challenges and not noticing a pattern in my solutions.

    So, again, thanks. This is a great help for me. If you're going to participate as well, whoever you are, I hope to see you in the Top 3.