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!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #18: Festival of the Guildpact

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.

That's a lot of happy people. O_O

This is unusual for the things we usually see focused upon in Ravnica. Usually, there's strife, death, and magical duelings. As such, there are few things that would make sense as what's depicted in the art. So that I don't create something that's totally weird, I'm going to keep this card named "Festival of the Guildpact." It IS the Festival, but I have to execute upon these festivities differently.

I see that the flavor text mentions that just one day out of the year people stop fighting. This means that whatever effect I design will have to last just one turn. No permanent cards unless those permanents only last one turn. But this is a white card, not a red card , so we're definitely not making a permanent. This will be an instant or sorcery.

If everyone stops fighting for a day, then I'd say that the original execution of this card doesn't quiet capture that. In the actual gameplay, what ends up happening is that there is hostility by the opponent, and you react and extinguish that hostility to some degree. You may not even get rid of it all and still receive damage. Nay, if you're going to stop everyone from fighting, let's do it right.

The first thing I thought of was to do a Fog / Holy Day effect. But Chant of Vitu-Ghazi already does this mass prevention of damage. Also, even if it didn't exist, it still wouldn't be entirely correct to do this! That's because the gameplay leads to there being an attack by creatures in the first place! Then you respond by preventing all the damage. No way. This has to be premeditated happiness. There has to be no attacking in the first place! ...We have to skip the combat phase!

In fact, what we want our creatures to be doing is almost exactly what the people in Moment of Silence are doing:

The creatures have stopped fighting for just a moment. There's no combat for a period of time, and they just sit there. They sit there. Ah, that's the difference between these folks and what the people during the Festival of the Guildpact are doing. The Ravnicans are celebrating and drinking wine! And it's the latter that I want to portray.

Since the creatures are untapped and won't be attacking, I'm going to give each creature a tap ability. The "drinking of wine" will be reflected by giving them:

T: You gain 1 life.

Because I'm giving it to every creature, both the opponent's creatures and your creatures would gain this ability. Two things:
  • It may seem like a terrible effect to grant to your opponent's creatures, but if you and your opponent are relatively stalemated, your opponent may not be so inclined to tap his or her creatures only for you to attack for the win next turn.
  • The effect gets better the more creatures you have. It's a good thing that white is the "army" color, and this should be beneficial for you, anyway; especially with the Selesnya Conclave.
Keep in mind that because I'm giving a benefit to both sides, the bonus is balanced by a drawback, the mana cost of this spell remains the same as Moment of Silence. But then because you'll probably be gaining some more life than your opponent because of him or her not wanting to tap his or her blockers for when you take your next turn, I'll increase a point in the mana cost.

There! New card:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #17: Fossil Find

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.

My first hybrid card replacement! So, hybrids - to design them well, you gotta find the overlap between the two colors of the hybrid card. Both red and green do trample, for example, so you can do an effect that has to do with trample for this card. But there doesn't seem to be any indication of this sort of thing happening in the art.

The first thing that comes to mind when looking at the art that both colors do is land destruction. But something more unique is going no. It looks like a fault or something is burrowing through the land. The vines/tentacles that are lashing around look like it's a living thing that is destroying the land.

Hmm... Survey the Wreckage already exists. I love that card design, by the way.

How else can this differ? How about destruction that only happens from a creature when it comes back to the battlefield through persist? Like, it burrows back to the scene, Bugs Bunny style, and ruins some land in the process? (I would hate for the land destruction to occur upon entering the battlefield, either through normal means or through persist, because that would mean there's twice the land destruction in one card, and that can lead to too much un-fun-ness.)

I do a searches on both persist and land destruction in the Shadowmoor set. There's Poison the Well at common and Deus of Calamity at rare. Seems fine enough for me to include land destruction at uncommon, especially when the land destruction doesn't happen until the creature dies. Delayed Destruction!

I wonder if creatures with persist have names that refer to them persisting? *checks*

Hmm. Sometimes. Lingering Tormenter and Restless Apparition both are like that, but Murderous Redcap and Kitchen Finks aren't. So, it's just an option that could help us name the card.

It looks like a Plant, but should I make it a Plant? I did a search on whether there were Plants in Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor, and Eventide (both the Lorwyn and Shadowmoor mini-blocks were part of the same world and would be played together in Standard, of course). None. And because Lorwyn block and Shadowmoor block are meant to be able to go together well with one block caring about creature types and the other caring about colors, I'll make sure that this creature isn't a Plant and is actually an Elemental, instead! A burrowing elemental.

...wait. Burrowing. Like, this card?

Well, hot damn! This card looks like it has the same thing as Burrowing's art, with that winding brown line in the ground! What if this was a card that had mountainwalk and forestwalk? I mean, I know that Shadowmoor cared about colors moreso than basic land types, but Tattermunge Duo from the same set had some forestwalk-granting!

Let's forget the land destruction and do this burrowing type of creature with landwalk!

Before you mention that a red creature shouldn't have forestwalk, just look at Koth's Courier! Exact same thing with Glissa's Courier! Sometimes, it happens for flavorful reasons, you know? Besides, a forest totally has the soil to burrow through. And mountains are quite burrow-through-able. I know that plains are, too; but let's not get too out of hand with what can be burrowed-through.

Since this would be the first creature that can both mountainwalk and forestwalk, I don't want to tack on any other abilities. It's already, "Whoa, that's a bit more complex and a bit more exciting!" Also, because it's a bit more evasive than the average bear, I want to make sure this as "safe" a design it can be. I'm giving it a power of 1.

O.K., now for a name that isn't "Burrowing Elemental" that fits between "Firespout" and "Giantbaiting" alphabetically., go!

Hmm... Tough. 10 minutes left before midnight. I want to use "Fireroot" to refer to a quickly moving elemental with roots. And it also would be flavorful to have something that appears as a surprise. It just pops up from its burrowing! And both green and red have access to haste as an ability.

Good! Let's do it:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #16: Fear

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.

Oh, man, the classic! Fear's effect is granting fear, so we're going to stay completely away from that. The art itself looks like it's depicting a "spell" happening, so I would go with either keeping it an enchantment or making it into a sorcery or instant. There isn't a focus within the art to indicate it as being a creature, and we can't make this into an artifact or land because it has to be a black card. So, options are: enchantment, enchantment - aura, sorcery, or instant.

Next, let's examine what sort of thing is happening in the art, and what kind of gameplay would match that. For example, regeneration doesn't seem to match this art. The art is too morbid-like and nothing showing coming back to life. The lady in the art is afraid, obviously. She's afraid of a bunch of skulls. The skulls can represent death. So, she could be afraid of dying. Scared to death? Hehe. This could also be a tormented woman. She's got a guilty conscience looming over her, perhaps.

If she's scared to death, then... well, that's just the card Terror! Hah. And the effect plays into the same flavor that Fear plays into.

I thought that those skulls could look like a wall made out of skulls. But Wall of Bone already exists!

Suddenly, I get the idea that the skulls are symbolic not of the concept/idea of death, but of the number of deaths that have occurred. Which means counting the number of creatures in a graveyard or graveyards. And because the lady in the art is being scared of this, this wouldn't be a spell you would cast on yourself or one of your own creatures. This would be a spell for targeting an opponent's creature - or even the player itself?

But Terror already exists, as I mentioned earlier. Ah, but what about giving a creature -1/-1 for each creature card in a graveyard that is counted? And then there's losing life, which would be targeting the player. Now I gotta see if these cards have already been done before. *searches MagicCards.Info database*

Oh, look. Chill Haunting already exists and does exactly what I wanted to do.

But I didn't find something that caused a player to lose life in this way. So, I'm going to do that!

I attempted to match the wording to how it might have been done in Alpha. The name falls between Evil Presence and Frozen Shade, with "exhumed" being about unburying and "haunting" being something that does harm or unrest to a player, thus them losing life. Looking a little pale there, friend!


When I researched whether the effect I eventually ended up with had existed before or not, I did not do enough diligence on this research, because there's already a card that exists exactly as I designed. Except, with damage instead of life loss. I think this is why I was thrown off and missed it - that difference in how the opponent loses life. Anyway, here's the card I unintentionally duplicated:

I like how "Haunting" is a common word among Chill Haunting, this card, and the card I designed. Unintentional!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #15: Collective Voyage

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.

Nice, a Commander product card! This card is part of the  join forces ability word cycle of rares. 

So, I should do something green would do but doesn't get lands from the library. Well, green's also about creatures, and there's some folks there in the art, too. Perhaps each person is assembling a party of adventurous folks? Like a Dungeons and Dragons group being sought from the world? ...Except I wont' do anything related to creatures, because the white card in the cycle, Alliance of Arms, already makes creature tokens.

O.K.... what else can we NOT do? Blue has everyone drawing cards. Typical. Black "hurts" everybody by milling them. Red does something weird and allows everybody to pump up a single dragon. Good things that people would enjoy that can't be done: creatures, lands, drawing cards. Bad things that can't be done: milling.

What are some good things and bad things that green does that aren't the above? List:
  • +1/+1 counters on creatures. Keep in mind we can't do temporary growth effects like Giant Growth (or anything that only lasts until end of turn) because only one player would benefit during the turn, which means the intended joining of forces would be discouraged. But you know what? Making every creature bigger might not be as exciting. If there's as stalemate of creatures, and they all get bigger, then it's an even greater stalemate - unless one player can attack for lethal in one swing. ...and other things. Bah.
  • Life gain! I don't really see it in action in the art, but perhaps a clever name can tie the flavor into it. Well, there's Bountiful Harvest that keys off of lands making stuff you can eat. Maybe mana can turn into life somehow.
  • Enabling your mana producers to be able to produce any color of mana.
  • Turning your lands into creatures. Not really indicative in the art. Unless... those people in the art USED to be lands! (unbelievable stretch)
  • Having creatures fight each other. ...This doesn't match the art.
  • Destroying certain kinds of permanents. Seems messy to implement as rules text and not really reflective of what's going on in the art.
  • Ooh, perhaps resetting life totals to the mana paid. But then perhaps some would just pay 0 for X, and try to end the game. Lame.
  • Caring about enchantments! ...Hmm. Could that lead to an imbalance when there's a deck with this card focused on enchantments and other decks that aren't? Reminds me of Sovereigns of Lost Alara and Eldrazi Conscription. Yeah, better not do this.
  • Granting creatures green abilities by placing some kind of counter on them? Hmm. But it's gotta be scalable easily, because the mechanic wants you to pay more and more mana.
  • Returning cards from the graveyard back to hand. Ack, that pesky maximum hand limit makes the awesomeness of returning cards back to the hand not as awesome since they'll just be dumped back into the graveyard. ...Perhaps that's O.K. After all, seven cards in hand is nothin to sneeze at.
I had this down to either life gain or returning cards back into the hand. But with life gain, it didn't seem to do much for players except give more opportunity for those who are close to death. If nobody was close to death, then it just extends the length of the game, because everybody would gain this life.

When you compare the other rewards, you get better gameplay. With the creature tokens, there's many possibilities. The decisions to block, attack, pump them, give them abilities, etc. Drawing cards is the classic way of giving each player options where the results can be various. Giving each player a bunch of lands also enables possible options for players where results can be varied. Milling is not as impactful, but it does give opportunity. ...most likely, though, to just the person who casted the spell.

So, we're going to return cards back to hand! Let's do it. Here's the card:

There was a myriad of ways I could have named this card, and it would have involved words like: remembrance, communal, congruous, etc. The first word would likely be some word starting with "Co" and the second word would be some word starting with "Re" to indicate a group thing of bringing things back. So I decided to go with the amusing "Recollective Recollection" out of these possibilities.

And, look, they look like they're reflecting upon what has happened within the land. One of them even looks like they're praying or something. How nicely fitting!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #14: Flametongue Kavu

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.

Well, let's get right into it. It is obviously shooting fire out of its mouth and hitting another creature. So it at least needs to do damage to creatures. It doesn't have to be upon entering the battlefield. And it doesn't have to be limited to creatures (hit players). You could have an ability like Prodigal Pyromancer's. In fact, you might argue that having a repeatable tap ability like that makes more sense for the art of this card because of this: the flying creature is being hit by one of the kavu's attacks. ...and the kavu is revving up ANOTHER one in its mouth!

Well, that's what's technically happening, but the impression that the viewer has is that the shot is doing the action of traveling from its mouth to the creature in the air as the viewer's eyes move from the mouth to the creature. 

...Actually, I've never taken any art classes and don't do art or know art principles or theory, so this could just be all wrong. But whatever - this matters little to not at all.

Hey, how big are kavus? *research research research*

O.K., so they're generally at least 2/2s, but there are a still a decent number of Kavus that are smaller size than this. And a lot of them don't even look smaller than the average Kavu. So, we won't have problem making this Kavu smaller, even though it looks pretty impressive in the art.

Hmm... My next step - I can either next look at what this card should cost or determine what kind of damage ability it should have. I'll go with the latter.


"T: CARDNAME deals N damage to target creature (or player)."

"Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, you may have CARDNAME deal N damage to that creature."

"At the beginning of (your upkeep/combat/), you may have CARDNAME deal N damage to target creature (or player)."

"MANA, T: CARDNAME deals N damage to target creature with flying."

"Whenever you cast a (red) spell, CARDNAME deals N damage to target creature (or player)."

"MANA: CARDNAME deals N damage to target creature."

I'll stop for now.

I don't feel comfortable having a red creature deal damage to creatures with flying - that's a green thing. Red likes to hit things without flying, like when an Earthquake happens. Firespout shows this whole dealio.

But upon thinking about the art more, I see that the drake is getting hit and another piece of fire is getting ready to happen. This means that an activated ability where tapping is a cost shouldn't be chosen. Because it takes too long for the kavu to recover for the art to make sense.

I think it makes for a more compelling creature if it just dealt damage to creatures. That's what the art depicts, anyway - it hurting a creature. I looked for similar creatures for this kind of ability and found Flamekin Spitfire. Which actually has a name that kind of aptly describes what Flametongue Kavu is doing. Except it deals damage to players as well. And that's just fine. The Kavu hurts creatures. ...O.K., maybe we'll let it damage players, too.

Hmm... There we have it! A larger body version of Flamekin Spitfire!

I found that "Flametongue Kavu" as a name is already perfect for what this new ability does, so no need to change it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daily Card Redesign #13: Circle of Protection 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, 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.

I click "Random Button" in Gatherer and get this:

Er... each card in the Circle of Protection cycle is literally only different by a single color word. I can't do ANYTHING to change Circle of Protection: Blue without it being inconsistent with the rest of the cycle. In this case, I'll just be redoing the whole cycle! ...It's really just redesigning a single card but changing the color word for five different cards.

O.K., so I've gotta design a cycle that would make sense for each of the pieces of art provided and whose name falls between Castle and Consecrate. Since circles are so prominent within each card's art, it's a safe bet that I'm going to have "Circle" be at the beginning of each card's name. We'll see.

The most un-helpful piece of art in this cycle for me is Circle of Protection: Black. Check it out:

Using a Thesaurus, it seems the best I can do to refer to this and the rest of the cycle is circle after all. I mean, if I'm going to use the word "circlet," I might as well say "circle" and not kid myself. But wait. I can use the word "Ring" after the first word if I use some kind of other word that refers to the effect of the cards in this cycle. For example, "protection," etc. So, let's wait until I determine the effect.

Heh, "Color Ring: Blue" is terrible. "Circumvention Ring?" ...bah, anyway...

O.K., so I've got two paths here. Obviously, since there are five of these in white, they each have to refer to a different color. Currently, the Circle of Protection cycle is used to protect you from colors. I can continue down the path. However, what if the cycle was actually all about benefiting you for using those colors? That's a different path.

But wait! What if there's art in the cycle that would be weird as a card that gives you benefits for playing that color? Hmm...

Hmm... Circle of Protection: Red is the one that seems to embrace playing with red spells the most. Circle of Protection: Blue is the one that seems least likely to play with blue. Even with that said, though, blue is the color of thinking and contemplation. Perhaps that's what the wizard in the art is doing. O.K., then! All good!

But is it appropriate for white to have all these cards that play nice with other colors? Seems like it's stealing some of green's slice of the color pie. Green enables you to be able to play with any color of mana, which indirectly encourages you to play multiple colors.

Oh, boy! Now I gotta study Beta. Which is a good thing. I'm learning more and more things about Magic: The Gathering and its design by doing these daily exercises. BRB

O.K., so apparently, white's really all about protecting itself in Beta. There's five-card Ward cycle that does the same thing that the Circle of Protections do, except for creatures. Because of that mirror, I'm not going to rock that boat. Besides, I'm running out of time, and I'm having a bit of an off day.

So, I'm just going to stop writing what I'm thinking and just design this already. Oh, and I changed my mind on the protection angle.

I always liked the idea of associating Aeromancy, Hydromancy, Necromancy, Pyromancy, and Geomancy into the appropriate colors in a cycle, and here I get to do that. The "Circle" angle makes it seem fitting in that it's sort of like a "cult" thing. Like you're subscribing to that circle of magic.

Aeromancy in white grants flying of course.
Hydromancy granting hexproof, effectively, is illustrated by the art with the wizard within the confines of that stone circle.
Necromancy with regenerate is like reviving the creature, anyway.
Pyromancy is fire magic, so this grants "firebreathing."
Geomancy was the one that was a bit of a stretch, but trample just goes with green creatures so well. Go, go, Craw Wurm!

There. Done!