|Illustration by aandr on deviantART|
I'm writing today about my design for the current challenge based on a piece of art by Anndr. While Jay has used outside art for the challenge, he has put the rule in place that it has to feel like it would fit in the upcoming set Dragon's Maze while giving the option to the designer to use either "Crop A" (the left side) or "Crop B" (the right side) of the wide piece of art.
It's interesting in that Crop B provides two humanoids in the picture while Crop A does not yet shows some foreground art. At first, I thought of a watchtower concept, where you would spy on the enemy lands from high above your watchtower. Or, you would give a creature enough elevation to have reach and/or first strike (like with archers).
But then I thought more about how interesting it was that there were two individuals in the art of Crop B. As Evan Jones pointed out, Crop B depicts two individuals but doesn't focus on these two particularly. Instead, there's something about the land around them that's important. But what could make the land around them important enough to warrant placing two individuals there in the art?
...Then it clicked. Sometimes, a place can't be a particular place without people making it into that place. What kind of place? A secret meeting place, for one!
Why would there be a secret meeting place? Well, in the flavor of Dragon's Maze, there's these alliances forming between guilds, as connected to the random secret guild you get as part of your prerelease guild pack. I'm not sure what more there is in the story of alliances between guilds, but there's at least three-color action going on here, like the revealed Dragon's Maze split card Beck & Call.
I originally wanted to make sure that the creatures themselves had to be multicolored but had colors that each other didn't share (like Simic and Azorius meeting up), but then I figured that was letting flavor get too much in the way of the design itself. The card name is generic enough that you might want to reprint it in the future. Thus, the core essence of a secret meeting place should really just involve a swapping of information between two individuals. So, just the requirement of two creatures is needed is all.
As for costing, since Jayemdae Tome requires four mana, I had this be costed at 3 mana (2 in the cost plus the tap symbol for the land itself) plus two untapped creatures to make up for that missing fourth mana. Plus , the 2 in the cost requirements was aesthetically fitting to the two untapped creatures that were needing to be tapped. Also, the fact that the land also produces a mana while Jayemdae Tome doesn't balances itself out as it takes up one of your valuable land slots producing colorless mana while other lands could have given you one or more mana.
But, hey - if the cost isn't right, development can tweak it. :)