7/14/2010 StF: "Planeswalkers' Signature Spells"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Savor the Flavor, which goes live Wednesday on magicthegathering.com.

I'm glad that Nantuko Shade wasn't given the Twilight treatment - the Nantuko were always a really cool race, the fact that they weren't a classic "fantasy" race (note: vampires also not really a classic fantasy race) made them interesting.
I like the Planeswalkers getting some of their own cards.   They need to hurry up and release this set on MTGO so I can get my draft on!
Nitpick dujour:  Beyer says here that the uncommon should be an engine which is activated by the common or by the planeswalker, but for Jace they have them backwards - the combo card is common, while its activator is uncommon.  This thoroughly disgusts me, as "Draw three cards" is an effect all players can use and thus belonged on a common, while a build-around-me that creates a viable mill deck should have been uncommon so you'd only see it if you wanted to.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
Nitpick dujour:  Beyer says here that the uncommon should be an engine which is activated by the common or by the planeswalker, but for Jace they have them backwards - the combo card is common, while its activator is uncommon.  This thoroughly disgusts me, as "Draw three cards" is an effect all players can use and thus belonged on a common, while a build-around-me that creates a viable mill deck should have been uncommon so you'd only see it if you wanted to.



Well according to Doug...
In this case, the common Jace's Erasure provides the "engine" that's fueled by the uncommon Jace's Ingenuity, which allowed development to give the draw spell a little more juice.



So apparently they thought Jace's Erasure was too strong to be a common. (Yeah, that logic bugs me too, but at least they tried to explain themselves.)

IMAGE(http://steamsignature.com/status/default/76561197995631463.png) No longer a commander as of 7/29/13.

What bugs me is that this super-cycle is 15 planeswalker-related cards, counting the planeswalkers themselves, rather than 20.  They could have put it at all four rarities by having a rare card associated with each PW.  For these, I recommend artifacts which represent an actual possession of the planeswalker - there's disconnect based on the fact that PWs aren't creatures and thus can't equip their signature Equipment, but it can happen under the right weird circumstances so I'm willing to let it slide that it doesn't work automatically.    Of course, the artifacts of Zendikar (Blade of the Bloodchief not being black, eg) indicate that we shouldn't expect to see Alara's colored artifacts again anytime soon, a fact for which I'm glad enough since I'm still a tiny bit upset about artifacts not being brown anymore.  So for this imaginary cycle, I'll pretend colored mana costs are off the table and just tie them to the colors with Ravnica-style optional activations, so that they're playable without the color but only optimal with it.

Ajani's Whatever-You-Call-That-Weapon-Thing
Legendary Artifact - Equipment, 2
Equip 1.
Equipped creature has lifelink and "2W, TAP: Target attacking creature gets +X/+0 until
end of turn, where X is this creature's toughness.""
"Why would I want a sword when I can have something that doubles as a kayak oar, a bar for doing chin-ups, and a backscratcher for when I have burrs in my fur?"


Jace's Makeup Kit
Legendary Artifact, 1
3 or UU, TAP:  Target creature gains a color or creature type of your choice UEOT.
"Reality can be redesigned to fit the image we create.  These aren't just lines of paint on my face; they're paths to the next stage of my evolution."


Liliana's Sensible Shoes
Legendary Artifact--Equipment, 4
At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card.  If LSS is equipped, equipped creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn, otherwise you lose 1 life.
Equip B.
Insert "killer fashion" pun here.


Much though I wanted Chandra's Asbestos Hair Ribbon, I think I'd better dial back the snark before my hair catches fire.  Besides, we all know everyone who looks at Chandra notices those big round things.


Chandra's Goggles
Legendary Artifact, 2
TAP:  Target player names a card type, then reveals the top card of his or her library.  If that card is the named card type, Chandra's Goggles deals 2 damage to him or her.
R:  Target player shuffles his or her library.

And now the snark returns with a vengeance.

Garruk's Fabulous Fur Coat
Legendary Artifact, 3
At the beginning of your upkeep, return Garruk's Furs to its owner's hand unless you pay G.
You may play an additional basic land on each of your turns.
"Of course fur is murder!  How do you expect me to eat if I never kill anything?  Carrots and potatoes are alive too, and helpless besides.  At least my dinner, and my coat, had a fighting chance."

My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
Garruk's Fabulous Fur Coat
Legendary Artifact, 3
At the beginning of your upkeep, return Garruk's Furs to its owner's hand unless you pay G.
You may play an additional basic land on each of your turns.
"Of course fur is murder!  How do you expect me to eat if I never kill anything?  Carrots and potatoes are alive too, and helpless besides.  At least my dinner, and my coat, had a fighting chance."



This is my favourite just because you used the word fabulous to describe his outfit. I'm beginning to see Garruk in a whole new light.

Garruk's Companion is my favourite card out of all the signature spells.
This is my favourite just because you used the word fabulous to describe his outfit. I'm beginning to see Garruk in a whole new light.

Garruk's Companion is my favourite card out of all the signature spells.



If you know Bobcat Goldthwait's bit about hunters, Garruk's whole "ultimate predator" shtick becomes either uniquely hilarious, or if you take it seriously, deeply disturbing.  But I wasn't really trying to go there with the name, it just seemed like an appropriate word to associate with fur coat.  You'll note that the cardname appears "correct" in the text; only the placeholder name gets to be Unhinged-ishly snarky.  Chandra's Goggles is the only one that could have been printed with the name I've given it above, though I'm tempted to go up and change it to Chandra's Mad Specs or something similarly ridiculous just to fit the pattern.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
I actually like all of them except Garruk's Companion.  A 3/2 Trample is just too similar to the 3/3s that Garruk makes on his own.  I would have preferred a vanilla 3/3 for 2G or GG or something a little more distinguishable from his self-generated companions.
What bugs me is that this super-cycle is 15 planeswalker-related cards, counting the planeswalkers themselves, rather than 20.  They could have put it at all four rarities by having a rare card associated with each PW. 



I'm sure it came up in meetings. With annual, instead of biannual, Cores there will be plenty of opportunity for signature Rares. Since design space is large, but not infinite, part of me is happy when they slow-play these sorts of things.

I lol'd at Garruk's Fabulous Fur Coat.
I envision a whole series of Jace's hipster douchebag equipments to go with his makeup kit. Jace's Earbuds, Jace's Fixie Bicycle, Sunglasses of Jace...
I don't like the fact, that only one spell interacts with the planeswalker. And most of them do it in a very underpowered way. The other card each planeswalker has often doesn't really fit into a deck build around the planeswalker and could be better.

Last but not least. Maybe you should create an edh-like format, where a planeswalker is your 'general'.

Ajani


The analysis:
The mantra is just too weak and the Pridemage just to selfish. If you can get a 2/1 for casting cost 1, why shouldn't it be possible to get a card that gives you 1 life per turn for cmc 1. Therefore a Sun Droplet is a much more flavorful card for Ajani, as well as a Cradle of Vitality or Well of Lost Dreams.

The deck:
In an deck built around Ajani...
a) you should get a huge bonus for gaining life
b) you should have a lot of creatures
c) you need some sort of lifegain
d) you need some sort of evasion & protection for the final kill

A Kinsbaile Borderguard was quite fine, but he didn't read 'when he leaves the battlefield'. And I am not a fan of white having tokens. Tokens are not very individual. I tried to combine Ajani with my Rebel deck, but he doesn't really fit in there... and doesn't solve the problem of a rebel deck.

Therefore the Ranger of Eos is one of the best white cards, but he has the same converted mana cost as Ajani. So this is a minor drawback. The Squadron Hawks aren't cats, but get close to what you want. The effect is limited to a maximum of 4 copies (like a 'pride')and to a specific card. It's not like a Goblin Matron, where you get only one card, but you're not limited to a specific card. If you search for another Matron, you could get similar results to the Hawks... getting all your copies into play.

Therefore, I would have made the Pridemate like the Squadron Hawk without flying but higher P/T rating (maybe a 3/1 for ). The mantra (a calming presence???) should have been something like "whenever you gain life, pay ???. If you do, target permanent doesn't untap during the next untap step" or something that uses life-gain to produce damage prevention or color protection. And it should have been an enchantment for cmc3 to keep the mana curve right, allowing early creatures.

Jace


The analysis:
First of all, I don't like the fact that blue uses mill-effects. I know that this is a historical tradition, where you only need to  have a deck full of counterspells and an alternative win condition (Millstone). But the win-con wasn't and isn't such important.

Milling however, is a nearly useless ability, unless you mill the whole library or use the cards in the graveyard. In other words, it's risky, you can't rely on it, supports graveyard use and is highly random.... so it's an easy call: It's a red!!!

Especially mass-milling. Extract on the other side grants a card disadvantage for a specific task: denying the important cards. It's a search effect instead of a random "top X cards", so it's much more relyable and much more blue.

Card draw effects are also random, luck-based effects, but grant a useful, but slow way to win in long terms. So this is neither blue (luck-based), nor red, but white. Letting all players draw cards is even more white. Searching cards or reorder cards are a much better way for blue.

Let's imagine a world of magic, where blue doesn't have the old counter+instant draw option and has no useless mill effects. Instead, blue uses it's intellect to put the right cards on top of his/her own library... and puts the wrong cards on of an opponent's library on top of it (or the right cards out/on the bottom of that library).

Then, blue would harmonize with white using draw spells, but would fear the red mill effect that would ruin the exact order of the cards... what a perfect situation. Opposing colors hate each other and befriended colors support each other.

So I can't like the new blue Jace cards, no matter how good they are. And I don't want to think about a blue deck, where the player was focussed so much on mass-milling, that he survived with just one life, but completely milled an opponent's deck. This isn't a blue way to win... it never was. But it is supported so much by R&D, that it makes me a sad panda.

Liliana


The analysis:
As already mentioned, searching the library and putting the card on top of it, is a blue ability in my opinion. Adding a 'life-loss' doesn't change the fact. In addition, a black mage tries to domiate others and hate anything that doesn't grant an instantaneous power bonus. It's more a 'get the bonus now and pay the price later' than vice-versa.

Therefore, the second ability would have been an ability for Jace, where the 'pay 2 life' is replaced with 'pay 2 points of loyality'. It would have been much more a black ability, if you would really draw the card.

Liliana's specter feels like a multiplayer card, But if you want to die, try that one and feel the consequence, when you've become a public enemy. The low toughness doesn't feel right either.

The Megrim-power-up card Liliana's Caress doesn't feel right either. First of all, if you play a black discard control type of deck, you need the early turns. You don't want to waste a turn 2 slot for an enchantment. It's better than wasting a turn 3 Megrim slot, but still doesn't feel right. I believe that R&D has forbidden the cmc2 discard slot. Players would rather play 2 cmc1 discard cards and a Hymn to Tourach won't have a comeback in the next few years. And of course: The turn2 slot has enough creature destruction cards.

The deck:
The early slots are full with discard control. The mid-game slots (like the specter) establishes a permanent discard control and should handle the board, if some creatures have slipped through during the early turns. The finishing cards shouldn't really focus on discard, but rather on reanimating the creatures your opponent has discarded and you'll have a nice black deck.

Liliana should have a casting cost of 4. Any additional mana cost means that you either have a dead card, you have to put additional lands into your deck or you have to focus on mana acceleration. But Lilliana is as she is. A quite useless, too expensive women that could be used in MBC decks rather than discard decks.

I would have made a Specter that combines power with a discard effect. Something like a 1/1 with 'Whenever Liliana's specter deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card' and 'Whenever an opponent discards a card, put a +1/+1 counter on Liliana's Specter'.  A Mind Rot would be a additional +2/+2 effect. The more despair you create, the more powerful he becomes.

Liliana's caress should be something with cmc2-3, that helps even more to establish board control. Maybe it could also increase your amount of mana... like the Cadaverous Bloom did. This would make it possible to play Liliana a few turns earlier. Something like a Phyrexian Totem. However the Negator Totem isn't able to establish board control. Therefore anything that prevents your opponent from attacking or playing spells would be a much better choice.

_____________________

Chandra and Garruk will be in an other reply.
@ willpell - Comment # 6

Chandra's Googles:
I wish this card was real. The ("R": Target player shuffles their library.) is begging for Johnny abuse!

As for our boy Doug's article, great as always. The flavor created from this large cycle should entice the newer player to learn more about these Planeswalkers and their stories. Which means more sales for WOTC in card, video game and book form. As my friends like to call them, Wizards of the Product... I have no complaints!
@ willpell - Comment # 6

Chandra's Googles:
I wish this card was real. The ("R": Target player shuffles their library.) is begging for Johnny abuse!

As for our boy Doug's article, great as always. The flavor created from this large cycle should entice the newer player to learn more about these Planeswalkers and their stories. Which means more sales for WOTC in card, video game and book form. As my friends like to call them, Wizards of the Product... I have no complaints!



Now that I think it's probably too good with Psychogenic Probe, not to mention that it could be used simply to stall and annoy your opponent into conceding or going to time; they'd never print it.  Maybe have it tap, that way it'd only be slightly annoying.  But yeah, Johnny abuse was kinda the point.  Besides, I like the flavor of these "ether goggles" filled with chaos mana...you stare at someone through them, and THEY see trippy visions which randomize their prepared spells.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
I wouldn't be too critical, they don't have to do things like this, and I thought it grand indeed that they did. I'd caught the relationship between the two cards, but not the tie back to the respective 'walker.

*** It's possible to overdo this, though. Did the art of ..."OpenTip(event, "Broken Fall")" class="nodec">Broken Fall really need to be concepted around Gerrard's plunge from the deck of the Weatherlight, the attempted aid of Selenia, and the broken branches of Skyshroud Forest? ***

Maybe I'm one of the few, but I hold Tempest block's storyboard card design to be the pinnacle of flavour. I loved the way it unfolded, and even now would say that while perhaps Tarngarth's Glare was poor, overall having so many cards steeped in the story really added to my enjoyment. All-time favourite block.
Tempest may have overdone it just a weence, but overall the storyboard idea wasn't a bad one.  Broken Fall is a spectacularly bad example for Beyer to pick, because what could the card possibly represent other than Gerrard's impression of a Chaos Orb being aimed at someone's Platinum Angel?  The card has no particular reason to exist *other* than to show off that moment, and yet they made a functional reprint of the same card years later (Molting Skin in Kamigawa IIRC).  That shows that an idea almost certainly inspired by the storyline proved to have functional merit.

I think the balance of story and setting was just about perfect in Kamigawa block.  There was a sense of progress even within individual sets, yet it was still mostly a wide-angle view.  Ravnica, TSP, Lorwymoor and Alara all did reasonably good as well; only in Zendikar have they gone badly astray, creating a setting which seems to actively sabotage itself.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
I'm still not happy with a 1/3 flyer for 3 in Red. It might spit fire now and then, but as it sits there it's just a beefed up Goblin Sky Raider. Not very Chandra at all.