Sunday, April 28, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #117: Battlemage Cycle

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.


So, here's the deal. This cycle of five cards covered ten different pretty basic effects that also weren't anything that was granted temporarily in combat and such. They were effects that happened one-and-done. 

Because of this, I would be hard-pressed to find other effects that weren't something like "Destroy target artifact." or something besides direct damage for a red effect. This is important to consider for me because I usually like to design something that stays out of the same space as the original design when I can. In this case, I can't. So, what I decided to do was to shuffle around the same effects that I would be re-using.

The best example is the redesign for Sunscape Battlemage being able to destroy an artifact or enchantment. In the originals, there was a red artifact-destroying ability and a white enchantment-destroying ability. It only made sense to then move these effects into a green ability.

And the inverse happened with red's direct damage to a creature or player in the original design of Thornscape Battlemage. I decided to split up the targets - a red ability that can only damage creatures, and a black ability that can only make a player lose life. I also tweaked the number to not repeat the '2' as last time (which makes sense, since I weakened the direct damage on red). Also important was to not put the direct damage-to-creature ability back on the Thornscape Battlemage, since I wanted new effects on each card as much as possible.

There were some effects that were staples in colors that weren't used the first time such as white's ability to put a creature back on top of the library or to destroy tapped creatures (to make up for scrapping the original cycle's black destruction ability and blue bouncing-of-nonblack-creatures ability). Blue's "freeze" ability (tapping a creature then having it not untap during the next untap step) is also a fresh ability used here. I decided that blue bouncing nonland permanents was O.K. to do as something different enough from the previous blue bouncing ability.

Thornscape Familiar's red ability is the most concerning, though. It's Wild Swing. And it costs one cheaper (because I was trying to keep the overall mana cost for kicking both the red and white kicker abilities) than Wild Swing. I couldn't find another red effect that wasn't destroying artifacts, dealing direct damage, or granted temporary until-end-of-turn effects and was still something that negatively affected an opponent instead of helping yourself (otherwise, I'd put a red creature token or use red looting, etc).

On that note, if you compare my effects with the original design's effects: every one of my effects are ones that negatively affect the opponent rather than positively affect yourself. The original cycle design had a mish-mash of both, but I preferred that these Battlemages be only casting spells that were meant to hurt the opponent.


  1. I love these. The splitting of the direct damage between black and red is cool, as is combining the artifact and enchantment destruction. Thunderscape Battlemage's art doesn't make sense anymore, but it's still a great effect set.

    It always bugged me that these all had different total converted mana costs when kicked. I don't think the kickers should all be the same, but what if the base cost and p/t's were adjusted so each gets a total cmc of nine? Food for thought.

    Nightscape Battlemage could be a 4/4 for 5B.
    Stormscape Battlemage could be a 3/3 for 3U.
    Sunscape Battlemage could be a 3/3 for 4W.
    Thunderscape Battlemage could be a 3/3 for 3R.

    1. Ah! I like how you think with adjusting the power/toughness and costs to balance out the kicker costs. Definitely knobs I different consider touching for adjusting.