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.
The very first thing I notice that I want to base my replacement design around is that this card's art has these magical Insect symbols emanating from his throat. Fantastic!
First thing I checked: converted mana cost at black uncommon. This guy is the only four-drop! And there's nothing at a higher cost. So, I'm going to keep this guy at 2BB or 3B.
Also, while there are magical insect rings depicted, which means you might be able to make this an instant, sorcery, or even enchantment; I'd like it to remain a creature since there are only a few creatures at black uncommon (and this is the only four-costed card - it should be a creature)!
If I want him to make Insect tokens, I'll have to check to see if there's nothing else occupying the black 1/1 token slot. ...Well, that's a modern design principle - the whole keeping things consistent throughout the set/block kind of thing. Might be a clusterf- in this set 'cause it's old.
...Nope. Nothing there. Though, there's a flying green 1/1 Insect token named Butterfly that gets made from the card Giant Caterpillar. Go figure.
I could also have this guy interact with Insects. But then that would mean I'd want him to at least be able to make an Insect on his own that he could interact with. I do a check of Visions to see how many Insects there are in the set. Luckily, there's Brood of Cockroaches in black, Army Ants in black-red, and Giant Caterpillar in green.
However, Giant Caterpillar was printed with "Summon Caterpillar" instead of "Summon Insects." Back in that day, way before The Grand Creature Type Update at the least, it wouldn't have counted as an Insect! That's all right. We didn't like its green-ness anyway.
For the interaction between an Insect and this guy, I look to both what black does and what he looks like he's doing in the art. Well, at first, I thought of those insect rings as being something emanating from his throat. But what if they were heading toward his throat? As if he is sucking the souls of insects to feast on? That's intense. This would be putting insects to death, which is O.K. for black to be doing. Perhaps you gain life from eating the Insect. Something like:
"Sacrifice an Insect: You gain 1 life."
Here's a bonus to this effect: Brood of Cockroaches, when it dies, costs the player 1 life and returns back to the hand at end of turn. Holy synergy, Batman! With this replacement of Nekrataal out on the battlefield, you would be able to perpetually block and sacrifice the Cockroaches with a net life loss of 0! Bwahahah. Let's do it.
For wording of that day and age, I modeled off of Juju Bubble and Aku Djinn. And I took a cue from Ovinomancer and let this guy be a Sorcerer. I mean, how often do I get to design a card with a typeline "Summon Sorcerer?" He transforms insect souls into life? Let's go with that. Besides, he looks like a Jafar gone really bad, anyway.
And I was going to make him a 1/1 since he doesn't really fight as well as a Sorcerer. But then he's holding that sword in the art. So, I made him a 2/1. Deadlier but still has a non-buff body like some fighters out there.
Check this out. A "nit" is a synonym for mite, or a small insect. "Picking" is a synonym for eating. So, put these together, and you get a Nitpicker!
(Remember that I have to choose a name that falls between Necrosavant and Pillar Tombs of Aku alphabetically to retain the same collector number. Joyous day!)