Saturday, March 9, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #68: Phyrexian Broodlings

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. 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.

This is what the Random Card button in Gatherer gave me. Mountain. And there's absolutely nothing I can do because it's a perfect and fundamental card. Let's try again.

There. Now its redesign:

The original design I'm replacing is awesomely flavorful. The power/toughness on the card represented how many Phyrexians were grouped together. The third one looming in the background represents one of the upcoming +1/+1 counters that comes from your sacrifice to the Phyrexian "cause."

I wanted to do Minion tokens but I remembered what Wobbles had me realize when I designed my version of Entangling Vines: if this is late in development, and art is already locked in, I probably can't come up with a design that calls for a brand new token. Because that would need art, and it's too late by then in this scenario I'm redesigning under. So, no tokens.

EDIT: I had forgotten that token cards didn't exist in booster packs back then, so this was actually a non-issue.

Within Urza's Legacy, a good portion of black's creatures are either Minion or Carrier. These Phyrexians! And the Carriers kill themselves to (hopefully) off an opposing creature. I tried to design something that played well with that while also keeping with the flavor that a creature that "dies" is actually being transformed into a Phyrexian.

It's like a Gravedigger, but one mana cheaper. The drawback is that it has restrictions. And since Carriers kill themselves to kill other creatures, you'll probably have a target to bring back!


  1. Yikes. You took a simple, clean common and grave it a rare's worth of text while simultaneously making it much, much narrower? I get that it's designed to work with the cycle of Carriers but this is still too on-the-nose for that.

    This is, I'm afraid, a monstrously bad redesign that takes an easy common grave-strategy enabler and turns it into something will only even excite extremely narrow tribal players.

    1. I agree with you that the original Phyrexian Broodlings are a fantastic design! So flavorful. It's quite a challenge to do better.

      But, it was being scrapped in my scenario, so I just had to fill it in with something other than what the design was. At least, if you notice, the card is a virtual vanilla. This lowers the complexity.

      It's hard to NOT go narrower than "sacrifice a creature: do something!" Within the context of the set, most of black's creatures were Minion or Carrier, so it's not intensely narrow like it might seem from the way you describe it!

      Therefore, it's more useful outside of narrow tribal decks, not that there was much tribal going on within the Urza's block.

      Thanks for your feedback!

    2. You're not lowering complexity by putting on a lot of text that does nothing. You're just annoying everyone who has to read it and realize that this card is usually a gray ogre.

      That's not "low complexity," that's high complexity without attendant benefit. Even if half the text on Form of the Dragon never comes up the card has an "awesome factor" that makes us tolerate it. When all of this text never comes up, we have gray ogre. woooooo.

      Also, if a card is just a terrible card that never saw play anywhere outside of tribal decks, it's a narrow tribal card. It might be playable inside its limited environment as a 20-23rd card, but let's not aspire to that.

      The problem here, is not that "a gravedigger that works with the disease dudes" is a bad design, it's that this design is leading people by the nose to that river and shoving our faces in it to make us drink. Six. Lines. Of. Text. (And extremely narrow band of utility.) are the issues here.

    3. I don't believe that the scenario you describe above regarding Gray Ogre happens for everyone. You're talking about an assessment that Spikes make - players who are competitive and care about card that help them win.

      I also don't believe that the ability never comes up. There are Johnny players in Limited, and they would love to make sure to take advantage of the Minions and Carriers, even if it causes them to lose because there are more powerful cards to choose from.

      For example, I put Battle of Wits in my Limited decks. Even if it means hundreds of basic lands.

      So, while you wouldn't enjoy such a card, and while this card isn't really powerful, someone out there would enjoy this, despite its power level.

      On power level: cards like Crazed Goblin exist. Bad cards exist, even intentionally. Even if I didn't go out of my way to make a card that's worse than Mons's Goblin Raiders, I don't think about how playable a card is in Limited. That's for development to handle, for when they craft the Constructed and Limited environments.

      But I do agree that six lines of text is unseemly. Even if, though, this is really a virtual vanilla design.