Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #19 Part 1: Master & Apprentice Cycles

Daily Card Redesign is a daily Magic: The Gathering design exercise where I randomly choose a card for the scenario of it being killed late during its own set's development, and I design a replacement card that uses the same art, is the same color, is the same rarity, and has a name that, alphabetically, keeps it within the same collector number for the set.

Ooh, I LOVE this card! ...I've never played with it before, and it came out before I started playing the game (I started during the last set of the Invasion block, Apocalypse), but I still love it. That's because it's part of a cycle AND it's related to the Apprentice cycle! Check out Darth Vader - er, I mean Nightscape Apprentice!

But, check it out. I can't redesign this card without affecting the whole -scape Master cycle! Both of Nightscape Master's abilities are identical on another card each. The whole cycle really has five unique abilities that each of them share. So, I'll be redesigning those five abilities/cards!

Here's the five different abilities:

  • [WHITE] Protection until end of turn
  • [BLUE] Return target creature to its owner's hand
  • [BLACK] Target player loses 2 life, you gain 2 life
  • [RED] 2 damage to target creature
  • [GREEN] Creatures you control get +2/+2 until end of turn
Before I continue further, I want to see if there are any parallels with the Apprentice cycle's abilities:
  • [WHITE] Tap target creature
  • [BLUE] Put target creature you control on top of its owner's library
  • [BLACK] Target creature loses 1 life
  • [RED] Target creature gains first strike until end of turn
  • [GREEN] Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn

It looks like there actually is a parallel! Green apprentice gives just one creature a mini boost while green master gives all your creatures an even larger boost. Black just scrapes away life in apprentice form while the master version drains a larger amount of life. Red is funny in that your creature gaining first strike "gets better" when you "strike first" with a masterful 2 direct damage before getting into combat. You know, double strike would be absolutely perfectly for this, but it hadn't yet been invented.

So... It looks like I'm actually redesigning TWO cycles' worth of abilities! Oof. What a doozy! So, here's what I'm going to do, since this will be time-consuming (I have to create and include in this post ten card images, and obtaining the cropped images can sometimes require me to work with Paint, which requires even more time), I'm going to split this up into two parts. I'll design two Apprentice abilities and two Master abilities today, and design the other three pairs for tomorrow's exercise.

Because the Random Card button in Gatherer gave me Nightscape Master today, I'll make sure to design the red and blue abilities, so that it can be shown off today. Along with the Apprentice dude.

And before I continue further, I think it would be wise to keep in mind yet another cycle 

So, let's start with blue. We can't bounce any creatures this time. What else does blue do? 

...I notice that the previous cycles all dealt with creatures except for the black ability. Pretty weird. Let's not repeat the same weirdness. Well, if possible.

Anyway, blue. Blue can tap, but white has already tapped with its Apprentice. Blue can untap, though. Hmm... untapping Masters. Blue can counter spells, draw cards, "loot," grant islandwalk, give shroud even though shroud wasn't keyworded, change lands into islands or other basic land types, grant flying, transform creatures into Apes and Frogs, etc.

Looting is nice. Draw a card then discard a card? Merfolk Looter already does that at 2 mana cost and with no mana activation for its tap ability. The requirement for the Apprentice would 1 mana cost plus a mana for each time it activates its tap ability. Same amount of mana for the first activation, except with an extra color, and it requires more mana for each further activation. Seems fair!

And it looks like Vodalian Merchant did a fill-in for Merfolk Looter by providing a one-time looting. I think that means a repeated loot ability on a black creature would be O.K.!

"U, T: Draw a card then discard a card."

And, of course, the Master version of this would be:

"UU, T: Draw a card."

Next: red!

Direct damage to a creature has already been done, and first strike. Direct damage to the player is similar to causing them to lose life, which black did. We could do haste, but it really sucks for the Master version of haste. Land destruction would be too mean. Destroying artifacts repeatedly would be lame, too. Firebreathing is redundant to masterfully give to all creatures you control. And making an ability that gives +2 power for each red mana seems like it's letting firebreathing get out of hand and inelegantly designed. Master version of trample would mean that each creature should get pumped at least, and that's already been done. "Target creature can't block." ...Hmm. "Creatures can't block this turn." Too good? Well, Bedlam costs the same as what a red Master would be, and the drawback for the red Master is that it has to activate its ability every turn. Being a creature itself is both a benefit and a drawback since it's easier to kill a creature than an enchantment.

Making a creature unable to block is similar to the white ability of tapping a creature. Except that white ability was able to stop attackers. But the past Master version of the ability was lame and is not at all similar to what would be the new red Master ability. ...I'm O.K. with using block effects!

O.K.! Let's see that in Apprentice and Master form!

Is this too powerful? Or just right? They certainly don't feel weaker than their previous incarnations!

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