12/15/2010 Feature: "GDS2 Design Challenge #3: Contestants' Submissions"

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This thread is for discussion of this Feature Article, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Take that judges who complained about how Jon Loucks submissions were too complicated. This time he's submitting vanillas!

Besides being part of a cycle, is there any reason why Shawn Mains RW01 (the search for enchantments thing) has the choose one or both wording? You would almost never choose the "or", since you can fail to find things when you search. It seems weird that the modal aspect is only relevant when you don't want someone to shuffle.
Ethan Fleischer
Penumbria

Show


In the deep places of the earth, you can spread the light or embrace the darkness.
Common Cycle:

CW01 –
Bore Lightshaft
5W
Instant
Tap up to three target creatures.
Dig 2 (2, Discard this card: Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card. Put that card into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.)

CU01 –
Strike Water
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
5U
Instant
Return up to two target permanents to their owners' hands.
Dig 2 (2, Discard this card: Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card. Put that card into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.)

CB01 –
Exhume Corpses
[Unearth Corpses - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
5B
Instant
Return up to two target creature cards from your graveyard to your hand.
Dig 2 (2, Discard this card: Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card. Put that card into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.)

CR01 –
Blast Bunker
[Dynamite - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
5R
Instant
CARDNAME deals 5 damage to target player.
Dig 2 (2, Discard this card: Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card. Put that card into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.)

CG01 –
Bury Nuisance
[Dig into the Past - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
5G
Instant
Destroy target noncreature permanent.
Dig 2 (2, Discard this card: Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a land card. Put that card into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.)

Pretty reasonable here. You might get a few "this is uncommon" comments, but I can't see any major problems.





Uncommon Cycle:

UW01 –
Shining Knight
2W
Creature - Human Knight
2/3
First strike
Reflect - When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you may pay 2W. If you do, put a 3/2 white Human Knight creature token with first strike onto the battlefield.

UU01 –
Mirror-wing Drake
3U
Creature - Drake
2/3
Flying
Reflect - When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you may pay 3U. If you do, put a 3/2 blue Drake creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

UB01 –
Double Agent
2B
Creature - Human Rogue
2/2
Morph 2B (You may cast this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
When CARDNAME is turned face up, put a 2/2 black Human Rogue creature token onto the battlefield.

UR01 –
Giltshield Grudgebearer
1RR
Creature - Dwarf Berserker
1/2
Double strike
Reflect - When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you may pay 1RR. If you do, put a 2/1 red Dwarf Berserker creature token with double strike onto the battlefield.

UG01 –
Silverscale Wurm
3GG
Creature - Wurm
4/6
Trample
Reflect - When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you may pay 3GG. If you do, put a 6/4 green Wurm creature token with trample onto the battlefield.


This is an interesting idea, but it needs to be whittled back somehow. I don't see any good way to do so, however. Having a whole lot of different tokens, that only appear once, is probably not good. It's especially not good when they have different P/T and abilities.

I do give you a brownie point for choosing first strike and DS as your abilities here. They're the abilities that are most relevant on these cards.



Rare Cycle:

RZ01 –
Left Side:
Hell
3BB
Sorcery
Destroy all creatures.

Right Side:
Back
5WW
Sorcery
Each player returns all creature cards from his or her graveyard to the battlefield.


This is awesomely powerful. It's probably coloured around the wrong way too.



RZ02 –
Left Side:
Give
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2RR
Sorcery
Target player gains control of target permanent you control.

Right Side:
Take
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
5UU
Sorcery
Gain control of target permanent.

The problem with this is that one side is a niche Johnny card, and the other is a normal utility card. I can't see anyone building around both sides of this card. It's more like two cards on one piece of cardboard.

I see where you're going, with major opposites, but it doesn't really seem to work.


RZ03 –
Left Side:
Flesh
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
XGG
Sorcery
Put an X/X green Beast creature token into play. Gain X life.

Right Side:
Blood
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
XBB
Sorcery
Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn. Its controller loses X life.

Good.


RZ04 –
Left Side:
Love
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2WW
Sorcery
Gain 2 life for each creature you and target opponent control.

Right Side:
War
3RR
Sorcery
CARDNAME deals damage to target player equal to twice the number of creatures you control.

RZ05 –
Left Side:
Now
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
3UU
Sorcery
Look at the top 10 cards of your library. Put two of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Right Side:
Then
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2GG
Sorcery

Put up to two target nonland, noncreature permanents on the bottom of their owners' libraries in any order.

Interesting. I'm not big on some of the names (and therefore favlours) here. This one in particular. It's based on a weak phrase, and the designs don't fit any flavour.





Jonathon Loucks
Penumbria

Show


It's evolution or extinction when hours pass in the blink of an eye.
Common Cycle:

CW01 – Omeisaurus
4WW
Creature – Lizard
5/6

CU01 – Baryonyx
4UU
Creature – Lizard
5/5

CB01 – Marshosaurus
4BB
Creature – Lizard
6/5

CR01 – Afrovenator
[Allosaur - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4RR
Creature – Lizard
7/4

CG01 – Hadrosaurus
4GG
Creature – Lizard
6/6


That's a lot of common fatties. But I guess it's okay. You just need to be aware of the fact that these guys will be everywhere in limited.




Uncommon Cycle:

UW01 – Avant-garde Guard
[Sparkling Shield - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
1W
Instant
Target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UU01 – Far Out
[Brain Drain - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...
2U
Instant
All creatures target player controls get -2/-0 until end of turn.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UB01 – Torturous Breakthrough
4B
Instant
Destroy target nonblack creature.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UR01 – Cutting-edge Combustion
1R
Instant
Cutting-edge Combustion deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UG01 – Ground Breaking
2G
Instant
Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

Without playtesting these, I just don't know how they'd pan out. They seem very strong. I'm not sure the cantrip kicker is all that interesting or challenging.






Rare Cycle:

RW01 – Overcome
[Starfall Omen
community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
3WW
Sorcery
Preeminence – Destroy all creatures with power less than X, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

RU01 – Overthink
4UUU
Sorcery
Preeminence – Draw X cards and untap up to X lands, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

TIME TWISTER/WALK! GO GO DEGENERACY.

RB01 – Overtime
[Haunting Omen –
community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4BB
Sorcery
Preeminence – Put all creature cards with power less than X from your graveyard onto the battlefield, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

RR01 – Overthrow
[Devastation Omen
community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4RR
Sorcery
Preeminence – Each player sacrifices X permanents, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

RG01 – Overwork
3GGG
Sorcery
Preeminence – Put X +1/+1 counters on each creature you control, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.


This is a good theme for a mostly well-executed cycle. It just doesn't need to be ability-worded.





Shawn Main
Malgareth, the UnderPrison

Show


You can barely remember the Sun, but you'll sacrifice anything for a stab at freedom.
Common Cycle:

CW01 – Substitute Shield
[Alt white, community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
1W
Instant
You may remove a counter from a white permanent you control rather than pay CARDNAME's mana cost.
Prevent all damage target creature would deal this turn.

CU01 – Converted Bonds
1U
Instant
You may remove a counter from a blue permanent you control rather than pay CARDNAME's mana cost.
Tap or untap target permanent.

CB01 – Improvised Garrote
1B
Instant
You may remove a counter from a black permanent you control rather than pay CARDNAME's mana cost.
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.

CR01 – Makeshift Shank
1R
Instant
You may remove a counter from a red permanent you control rather than pay CARDNAME's mana cost.
Target creature gets +1/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn.

CG01 – Impromptu Gauntlets
[Ironbar Gauntlets, community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
1G
Instant
You may remove a counter from a green permanent you control rather than pay CARDNAME's mana cost.
Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.


The alt cost makes the card interesting enough by itself. You correctly kept the second ability as simple and mundane as possible.

The only issue I have is that these cards will be used to remove -1/-1 counters more often than +1/+1 counters, if -1/-1 counters exist in the set. That undermines the intent of an alternate-cost card. It's fine if that happens some of the time, but that kind of double-bonus should be the exception, and not the rule.





Uncommon Cycle:

UB01 – Corpsefly Feeding
[Poisionfly Feeding, community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2B
Enchantment
Whenever a creature you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay B. If you do, target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

UR01 – Babbling Blood
2R
Enchantment
Whenever a creature you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay R. If you do, draw a card, then discard a card.

UG01 – Offal Feast
[Edible Algae Feeding, community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2G
Enchantment
Whenever a creature you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay G. If you do, gain 3 life.


Okay, but this kind of enchantment is very typical anyway.




Rare Cycle:

RW01 – Watcher's Safeguard
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4WW
Sorcery
Choose one or both- Search your library for an enchantment card and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library; and/or search another target player's library for an enchantment card and put it onto the battlefield under your control. Then that player shuffles his or her library.

RU01 – Watcher's Mirror
4UU
Sorcery
Choose one or both- Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of target creature you control; and/or put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of target creature you don't control.

RB01 – Watcher's Revival
4BB
Sorcery
Choose one or both- Return target creature card in your graveyard to the battlefield; and/or return target creature card in another player's graveyard to the battlefield under your control.


Why would you ever not do both? The only time you wouldn't do both is when they have no target. And that can be dealt with by writing "up to", and not some Entwine-style antics.








Mythic Rare Cycle:

MW01 – Olorah, the Shackled Judge
WW
Legendary Creature – Angel
6/6
Flying, Vigilance
CARDNAME enters the battlefield with four -1/-1 counters on it.
2WW, Remove two -1/-1 counters from CARDNAME: Destroy each tapped creature.

MU01 – Seham, the Bound Deceiver
UU
Legendary Creature – Djinn
6/6
Flying
CARDNAME enters the battlefield with four -1/-1 counters on it.
2UU, Remove two -1/-1 counters from CARDNAME: Other creatures become 1/1 and lose all abilities until end of turn.

MB01 – Tyvaal, the First Prisoner
BB
Legendary Creature – Demon
6/6
Trample
CARDNAME enters the battlefield with four -1/-1 counters on it.
1BB, Remove two -1/-1 counters from CARDNAME: Target player sacrifices a creature.

MR01 – Angathrak, the Chained Tyrant
RR
Legendary Creature – Dragon
8/8
Flying, Trample
CARDNAME enters the battlefield with six -1/-1 counters on it.
3RR, Remove three -1/-1 counters from CARDNAME: Untap target creature and gain control of it until end of turn. It gains haste until end of turn.

MG01 – Naal, the Fettered Growth
[community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
GG
Legendary Creature – Treefolk
8/8
Trample, Vigilance
CARDNAME enters the battlefield with six -1/-1 counters on it.
3G, Remove three -1/-1 counters from CARDNAME: Put three 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield.


The good:
It's interesting to cost such a massive creature at CC.

The bad:
CC is a ludicrously low cost for these creatures. The idea is good, but the execution is WAAAY off. RR for a 2/2 flyer with trample is too good (and inappropriate) by itself.
The number of counters could easily have been the same. The evergreen keywords could have been more consistent. (One each would be ideal. There's already a lot going on here.) Also, the activation costs and P/T could all have easily been lined up.

I foresee imminent doom for this contestant. :<>


Devon Rule
Golamo

Show


Geysers of mana erupt over Golamo, warping its guardians into something larger...
Common Cycle:

CW01 – Fledgling Greathawk
4WW
Creature - Bird
CARDNAME has flying as long as it's enchanted.
4/6

CU01 – Goliath Eel
5UU
Creature - Fish
6/6
CARDNAME cannot attack unless it's enchanted.

CB01 - Dire Stoat
5BB
Creature - Ferret
5/4
CARDNAME has intimidate as long as it's enchanted.

CR01 – Gargantuan Ocelot
4RR
Creature - Cat
5/3
CARDNAME has first strike as long as it's enchanted.

CG01 – Titanic Hound
[Saptongue Crusher by Havelock Vetinari - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
6GG
Creature - Hound
7/7
CARDNAME has trample as long as it's enchanted.


Interesting, but most of these are way too swingy for common. A huge evasion fattie barely even qualifies as uncommon.



Uncommon Cycle:

UW01 – Manifest Purity
2W
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has "Whenever this creature deals damage to an opponent, you may destroy target enchantment."
Incarnate 2W

UU01 – Manifest Intellect
2U
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has "Whenever this creature deals damage to an opponent, you may draw a card."
Incarnate 2U

UB01 – Manifest Agony
2B
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has "Whenever this creature deals damage to an opponent, they discard a card."
Incarnate 2B

UR01 – Manifest Fury
2R
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has "Whenever this creature deals damage to an opponent, you may have it deal 2 damage to target creature."
Incarnate 2R

UG01 – Manifest Destiny
2G
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has "Whenever this creature deals damage to an opponent, you may search your library for a basic land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library."
Incarnate 2G


The problem here is that you'd never incarnate these guys. A 2/2 with no abilities just isn't going to hit the opponent.




Rare Cycle:

RW01 – Luminous Eruption
["White Geyser's Influence" by Bradley Rose- community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4WWW
Sorcery
Triple your life total.

I'm just not sure that tripling your life total is much fun. It's like an UGGGHHHHH moment for your opponent.


RU01 – Creative Eruption
["Blue Geyser's Influence" by Bradley Rose- community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4UUU
Sorcery
For each card in your hand, draw two more cards.

Don't need the "more".

This just draws a whole heap of cards. I'm not sure that it's much more interesting than just drawing a crapload of cards the regular way. :> Sitting on cards really isn't great gameplay.


RB01 – Ravenous Eruption
4BBB
Sorcery
Exile any number of creature cards from your graveyard. For each card exiled this way, put three 1/1 black Rat creature tokens onto the battlefield.

I kinda get the same feeling as with the previous card - you just get a crapload of rats, and you might as well just get ten rats, rather than link it to something the player isn't really going to manipulate (like the number of creatures in their GY.)


RR01 – Furious Eruption
["Red Geyser's Influence" by Bradley Rose- community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4RRR
Sorcery
After this main phase, there are two additional combat phases followed by an additional main phase. At the beginning of each of those combat phases, untap all creatures that attacked this turn.

This one works.


RG01 – Verdant Eruption
["Green Geyser's Influence" by Bradley Rose- community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4GGG
Sorcery
Search your library for up to X basic land cards and put them onto the battlefield tapped, where X is twice the number of lands you control. Then shuffle your library.

"A crapload of land. Likely all of it." Why not just get all your land, or seven, or a number equal to 1x the amount you have?

In general, doubling is hugely swingy, and needs to be used with great care. Tripling things is even harder to do.





Scott Van Essen
Doom of Wodotha

Show


Armies rallied to repel the blight. But when it arrived, they saw nothing.
Common Cycle:

CW01
Weary of Death
1W
Sorcery
Target player gains 4 life.
Requiem - If a creature was put into a graveyard from the battlefield this turn, that player gains 8 life instead.

CU01
Vapors of the Blight
[Blightlost Vapors - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
U
Sorcery
Put the top three cards of target player's library into his or her graveyard.
Requiem - If a creature was put into a graveyard from the battlefield this turn, put the top six cards of that player's library into his or her graveyard instead.
Source: Blightlost Vapors

CB01
Memories of Bereavement
1B
Sorcery
Target player discards a card.
Requiem - If a creature was put into a graveyard from the battlefield this turn, that player discards two cards instead.

CR01
Flames of Retribution
[Pyre Shot - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
1R
Sorcery
CARDNAME deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
Requiem - If a creature was put into a graveyard from play this turn, CARDNAME deals 4 damage to that creature or player instead.
Source: Pyre Shot

CG01
Seeds of Rebirth
[Seeds of Rebirth - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2G
Sorcery
Put two 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield.
Requiem - If a creature was put into a graveyard from play this turn, put four 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield instead.


Not bad, but some of these will always be sat on until a creature dies. Both modes of play should be viable/possible.






Uncommon Cycle:

UW01
Rescue from the Blight
2W
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Flash
Enchanted Creature gets +1/+1
When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner's hand.

UU01
Rise above the Blight
2U
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has flying
When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner's hand.

UB01
Feast on the Blight
[Feast on the Blight - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2B
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has lifelink.
When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner's hand.

UR01
Charge through the Blight
[Havelock Vetinari's Revel in the Blight - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2R
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and can't be blocked except by two or more creatures.
When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner's hand.

UG01
Endure the Blight
2G
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has shroud.
When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner's hand.


These are great. I can't believe they haven't already been done.

Have they? :<>

The white (flash) one is novel, but out of place. Although it has the same ability, it doesn't really play the same way as its brethren.











Mythic Rare Cycle:

MW01
Celiana, the Protector
4WW
Legendary Creature - Angel
5/5
Flash, Flying
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may return any number of other permanents you control to their owner's hand.

Interesting, but it often doesn't quite work. You really want to just flash this in, not return anything, and just block with it. Also, because damage doesn't stack any more, bouncing your own guy might just let the opponent's creature live too.



MU01
Ventaro, the Preserver
[Havelock Vetinari's Ventaro the Preserver - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4UU
Legendary Creature - Sphinx Wizard
4/4
Flying
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, return all instants and sorceries in your graveyard to your hand.

That's a pretty crushing ability. Does it need to happen twice? This guy might just say "I win" on him the first time, when you pick up three counterspells.


MB01
Maltor, the Betrayer
4BB
Legendary Creature - Demon
5/5
Intimidate
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, Blight all other creatures. (Destroy each permanent with a Blight counter. Then put a Blight counter on each Blighted creature)

This one works.



MR01
Rantor, the Ravager
4RR
Legendary Creature - Giant Warrior
5/5
First Strike
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, blight target creature, then untap it and gain control of it until end of turn. It gain haste until end of turn. (To Blight a creature Destroy each permanent with a Blight counter. Then put a Blight counter on each Blighted creature)

The death trigger has a problem. Gaining control of a creature is often not going to be useful at some random time, like your post-combat main phase (or the opponent's).



MG01
Gaesta, the Rebirther
4GG
Legendary Creature - Spirit
6/6
Trample
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, return all other creature cards from your graveyard to your hand.

That's a good mythic ability. It's just a bit unnecessary to do it twice.

This guy is also a recurring combo with himself.




Jonathan Woodward
Utopia

Show


Invasion strikes Utopia -- now the tools of peace must become the weapons of war!
Common Cycle:

CW01: Farmer's Charm
[adapted from Farmer's Charm by shdwcat - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
W
Instant
Choose one - Put a 1/1 white Citizen creature token onto the battlefield; or search your library for a Plains card, reveal it, put it into your hand, and shuffle your library; or gain 2 life.

CU01: Scholar's Charm
U
Instant
Choose one - Untap target creature; or target creature gains shroud until end of turn; or draw a card.

CB01: Smuggler's Charm
B
Instant
Choose one - Return target Mercenary card from your graveyard to your hand; or target creature gains Intimidate until end of turn; or you gain one Gold counter. (Gold counters may be spent as colorless mana or life payments.)

CR01: Flameweaver's Charm
R
Instant
Choose one - Destroy target non-creature artifact; or add RR to your mana pool; or target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn.

CG01: Hunter's Charm
[adapted from Hunter's Charm by shdwcat - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
G
Instant
Choose one - You may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield; or target creature must block this turn if able; or put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.


you need to take great care that charms are balanced. Not only that the card is balanced as a whole, but that the ablities are too. In my opinion, on a three-choice card, each ability should be played at least 10% of the time. Any less, and it's like it's not there.

Add RR is just too powerful for this type of card. It would be played by people who'd ignore the other two abilities.






Uncommon Cycle:

UZ01: Anunnaki Eraser
[ability from Fanoffans - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2(w/u)(w/u)
Creature - Anunnaki
1/4
Flash
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, if you control another Anunnaki, exile another target permanent. Return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control at the beginning of the next end step.

UZ02: Anunnaki Infiltrator
2(u/b)(u/b)
Creature - Anunnaki
2/2
Flying
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, if you control another Anunnaki, remove all counters from target permanent or opponent.

I'm not sure that removing poison is a good thing.


UZ03: Anunnaki Lacerator
2(b/r)(b/r)
Creature - Anunnaki
3/1
Haste
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, if you control another Anunnaki, Anunnaki Lacerator deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

UZ04: Anunnaki Ravager
2(r/g)(r/g)
Creature - Anunnaki
3/2
Trample
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, if you control another Anunnaki, destroy target land.

UZ05: Anunnaki Purifier
2(g/w)(g/w)
Creature - Anunnaki
2/3
Vigilance
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, if you control another Anunnaki, destroy target artifact or enchantment.

I'm not thrilled by this cycle. It's pretty bland.




Rare Cycle:

RW01: Majority Rule
[adapted from "People's Revolt by Kharg - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2WW
Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control at least ten more creatures than each of your opponents, you win the game.

RU01: Omniscience
[suggested by Art M. and posted by eve_prime - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
4UU
Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have fifteen or more cards in your hand, you win the game.

RB01: Vast Riches
[adapted from "Vast Riches" by Kharg - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
3BB
Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have twenty or more Gold counters, you win the game.

RR01: Walk through Fire
2RR
Enchantment
If all players would lose the game, you and your teammates win the game instead.

Interesting.

RG01: Lord of the Land
[adapted from "Back to Nature" by Kharg - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
3GG
Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control at least five more lands than each of your opponents, you win the game.

Not much to say (positive or negative) here.



Wow is Now//Then powerful. Now especially--two cards from the top ten? That's getting close to Gifts Ungiven territory. Not that I mind, but wow.

EDIT: Loucks's RU1 seems unbelievably broken, especially with large numbers of beefy commons running around. I can't see how judges won't excoriate him for the Urza's free mechanic.

EDIT2: I thought everyone did a pretty good job this time 'round! If I had to pick a loser, I think it'd probably be Loucks, who I think kinda punted the common cycle with all vanillas. I've been a poor judge of the judges in the past, though.
Fleischer:
Commons - good work(though they feel a touch weak).
Uncommons - the switching p/t feels like it'll be confusing, and I think I'd just prefer straight copies like the black one is.
Rares - I think those are actually as good as the WotC split cards - names, effects, fitting into set themes, all spot on.  
8/10 - well done. 

Loucks:
Commons - a bunch of vanillas is not a cycle. A green 6/6 is not noticeably bigger than usual.  And you apparently didn't read his submission last week well enough to notice that higher power may be how green evolves, but the other colours don't - blue, for example, evolves by casting two spells in a turn. 
Uncommons - congratulations, you just completely hijacked his set. Where the hell did multicolour come from? And why would you think that multicolour, a concept which has sold no less than four blocks in the last decade, should be thrown in as a secondary effect on a power-matters set(which is clearly what you think this is)?
Rares - Apart from the fact that you're designing for the wrong set, these aren't bad. Red seems weak, green and blue seem strong, and it's a shame that they couldn't all have the same(4CC?) casting cost, but I like them. 
2/10 - the design isn't bad, but I don't think you actually read anything about Fleischer's world past "There are dinosaurs!". 

Main:
Commons - an alternate casting cost for a spell that costs 2 seems kind of unnecessary. Maybe in Fleischer's set, where you want mass spells for blue's evolve triggers and an easy ACC can get it off the ground early, but you're designing for Van Essen. The cards are okay, but I don't think they're really needed. 
Uncommons - The three work well as a prisoner-themed mini-cycle, but that's not what you were supposed to design. 
Rares - Not a fan of the formatting, you could make it much shorter with say "Return target creature in your graveyard and/or target creature in an opponent's graveyard to play under your control". You're still not supposed to design 60% cycles. All three are perfectly reasonable cards, though. 
Mythics - Good christ is the black one broken. The others seem like good fun mythics though. I wasn't originally a fan of switching to -1/-1 counters, but after looking through his past submissions, I don't think the set's actually losing anything in the switch, and it fits the flavour better I think. 
6/10 - I'm really not a fan of the part-cycles. I don't think they're logical or obvious to players, and while sometimes contestants ignoring the rules and doing something cool is worth it, I don't think this is. Other than that, good. 

Van Essen: 
Commons - Great cycle. On theme, well costed, and appropriate commons. 
Uncommons - Quiet little cycle that interacts well with the blight theme. I like. 
Mythics - Yup, these are mythics. I like the coming-and-going trigger, it works(and doubly so in a set where there's so much random destruction you can toss around). I never thought of multi-blighting, like the black one does, but I suppose it makes sense at higher rarities. 
9/10 - You didn't do anything insanely cool, so no 10/10, but a very solid submission all around. 

Rule: 
Commons - Well, there's my sealed pool's high end. Good cards - on theme, well costed, and common. 
Uncommons - Remember that uncommons still have reminder text. As such, these cards don't actually fit in a text box at standard font sizes, and microtexting isn't done at uncommon. The design is fine, but something needs to go(and it'll have to be incarnate, which means it fits in with the set much less well), or the cycle needs to be moved to rare and made cooler to justify that. 'Tis a shame - these are perfect uncommons - but them's the rules. 
Rares - The first four are great, and feel like they're specifically designed to appeal to Ma"My favourite word is double"Ro. The green one just feels silly though - what precisely am I ramping to when I've hit 4GGG, and where am I going to find 14 more basics in my deck to pull out? This card is in the very odd position of being a "Triple your X" card where the effect actually gets smaller as you get more X, just for deck size reasons. Oh, and the red one should say "each followed by an additional main phase". 
8/10 - Good design, especially on the rares, but the text limits on the uncommons is a silly mistake that you should have seen coming, and it actually compromises your design pretty badly. 

Woodward:
Commons - "Target creature must block if able" may actually be a new effect. A bit odd to see it debut on a charm, but I think it actually works. But yes, this is a perfectly reasonable charm cycle. 
Uncommons - As all the judges kept saying in the first week, hybrid is a block theme, and a very profitable one. You don't just throw them in for the sake of one cycle of cards unless there's a very good reason why they want to be there. I don't see any obvious reason for the invaders to be hybrid here, let alone one good enough to justify throwing it in like that. As for the cards themselves, they're serviceable, but pretty dull. Maybe they'd pop a bit more if I could see the rest of the invader cards, but on their own they seem pretty underwhelming for what they're supposed to be, and they don't make me expect great things from the rares. 
Rares -  Everyone loves alt-win cards, but these seem a bit meh. The green one feels crazy broken. The red one is annoyingly off-theme - the rest are about getting lots of what the colour wants, but peaceful red isn't really big on everyone dying for the sake of it. Black is a touch insular, but probably okay. The other two are good. 
7/10 - Nothing really awful, but other than a few of the alt-win cards nothing popped for me, and the hybrid just feels wasted.
Take that judges who complained about how Jon Loucks submissions were too complicated. This time he's submitting vanillas!





Yeah, that was disappointing. A vanilla cycle is so boring, many players won't even notice it (I doubt I would, and if I did, I'd be unimpressed). A cycle of common dinosaurs was begging to be done given the world, and it should've helped define them mechanically. I suppose being vanilla establishes that they are big and simple, but that's just not compelling enough for a cycle.

What's worse is that common cycles strike me as the place where a designer can use the most complexity points. Because players will see the cycle, you can hit a mechanic that might otherwise be too confusing for common. I know the judges hit hard on complexity the last two times, but this was a challenge where it really belonged. There is a lot of middle ground between vanilla and the brain twisters submitted previously.
Ethan Fleischer

Ethan, I've really enjoyed your work, and this is pretty solid for this week. I liked your twist on the reflect creature. The switching of power and toughness is an interesting twist, but I'm not sure it does enough to be worth it. Those cards needed a little more polish, but I was interested in what they were suggesting. I did like the black creature being a slight twist on the cycle.

The rares were a miss for me. I'm a casual Timmy, and when I open a rare, I want something jaw droppingly awesome. These all read to me as "expensive spell for a relatively bland effect." You've been really good at incorporating feedback, and it would be interesting to see you take a stab at split cards again.

Edit: rereading them, I like the split cards better, and the reflection theme was pretty strong. Still, I wish they weren't so expensive.

I don't have any comments on the common cycle because I really don't like dig. I have the same reaction to it as channel - it looks like cycling, but with a minor change and little else. But, given that channel exists, I may be alone in this.



Shawn Mane

Yours was my favorite of this batch. I was thrown at first by the -1/-1 counters because it was new to the world, but I think it was just what this set needed. As you described, it really captures the dynamic of the prisoners rising up, which really helps the set's identity.

I love the mythic cycle - they seem like great, flexible cards. I liked that they were solid 2/2's in the early game (and that can stay relevant as they grow) or 4/4's with a powerful spell effect. I do wish the numbers were consistent across the cards, but I think mythic gives you the most room to deviate from that norm. On top of that, the flavor of the creatures was strong and integrated well with the set themes you presented.

Your uncommon were solid too. Again, you took an idea from the set (countercast), developed it further and really made it shine.

The only cycle that didn't connect was the rares. They just seemed clunky.
Just noting, I'm pretty sure Shawn Main e-mailed MaRo to check if it was okay before submitting his "partial cycles." The idea sprung from the fact that Malgareth is supposed to have three factions, so it makes some sense to cycle them out.
Great Designer Search 2 Finalist - If you're interested in getting involved, check out my Wiki Page.
Just noting, I'm pretty sure Shawn Main e-mailed MaRo to check if it was okay before submitting his "partial cycles." The idea sprung from the fact that Malgareth is supposed to have three factions, so it makes some sense to cycle them out.



Ahh okay. \:>

Not sure it changes my final portent though. :>
I  get the feeling that Loucks asked for some direction of the future sets before he made his uncommon cards.  It was hinted at in the end bit.  Same with Main and his splitting idea.

As for JD's comments on the rare cycle...  You didn't notice the dark/light thing?  I started reading it and saw "kill everything/resurrect everything", looks like dark/light to me.

And Dig looks like Landcycling, coz it sorta is.  But with a random land instead of the one you would get from landcycling. It's what Recross the Paths is to Rampant Growth.  Without the clash.
I'm okay with the vanillasaurs.

A cycle of vanilla fatties hasn't been done before. It's pretty striking, and would be a good element to define and differentiate the set (especially in limited.)

I have to say that I'm impressed with Shawn Main's mythics. From a competitive perspective they start as grizzly bears which are never bad and their abilities are relevant and reasonably costed (one thing to note is that they aren't vulnerable to bolt because you remove counters as a cost). From a casual perspective people are going to see 6/6s and 8/8s for two and love it. One thing I've seen is that casual players will play any bad fatty that gets printed and these fatties are good, so there are absolutely no problems.


Edit: One thing I would do is add a tap requirement for their ability. It powers them down a bit and adds the flavor of them breaking their chains.


I'm also fine with Louck's dinosaur cycle. It doesn't look that interesting but it's fairly bold for limited and they play well with the set's design.

The average standard of submissions seems high this time. I'm looking forward to the judges' comments.

I'm guessing Devon may be out this time. I don't like any of those Golamo cycles. The big things are only playable in Limited, where you won't often want to enchant them because they're already big enough and the bonus isn't worth it. The uncommon cycle is bad because they're unplayable in Constructed and you'll almost never want to incarnate them in Limited. The rare cycle are OK in flavour terms, but all except the Black one are too expensive for anything except Casual play in which context they will just annoy people. (Didn't Beacon of Immortality do enough to demonstrate that massive life boosts are a terrible idea? I don't want to play two hour long Casual games!)
Does anyone else get the feeling that Jonathan Loucks' cycle of rares are incredibly powerful? The preeminence mechanic just seems too open to abuse. My first thought was just that Thought Gorger, Hellcarver Demon, even Chandra Ablaze and Fauna Shaman, bust 'Overtime' wide open. Imagine casting the demon, discarding a handful of creatures, and cascading into an Overtime. In bigger formats where there are card that allow you to discard cheaply or freely, there must be a way to abuse hell out of it. Ashnod's Altar?
Ethan: Daring use of split cards. But I think splashy enough to be worth it. They're very impressive, actually - the clear similarity between each pair makes them much more than just ten single-card rare sorceries. I love Penumbria, but you've done very impressive work in that world.

Jon Loucks: Torturous Breakthrough could probably be a mana cheaper, compared with Annihilate, but details. I like the design of Overcome, that it'll always leave you with at least one creature. Intriguing take on evolution, but I'm not sure "multicolour" is the Magic way of expressing evolution. (I haven't seen a good expression of what is the right way to do this, of course. It may be that it's just something that Magic doesn't model very well.)
It's hard to tell whether this week's submission is a bit flat, or whether it's just that Penumbria is particularly awesome and I prefer to see you working there.

Shawn: I like the "remove a counter" ACC, especially when several of the counters in the set are -1/-1 counters, but it feels somewhat like giving it away when the only creature counters in the set are -1/-1 counters. Daring to submit separate cycles for the uncommons and rares, but I do like 3-card cycles, like the several in Shards of Alara. A nice set of designs.

Devon: I like the giant animals. Timmies like enchanting their fatties, so this is a hit with that segment. The tight saboteur incarnate cycle look good. The triplers I'm not so sure about. In most cases, just doubling would work fine.

Scott: Logline feels somewhat fiddly. Common cycle are fine. The uncommons are nice, though white getting the flash member of a cycle of auras feels like it's been done before, particularly with the Magemarks. Hmm, lots of self-bounce between the uncommons and the mythics: that may be too much. Ventaro seems crazy overpowered, but miiight be okay for a mythic. Nice designs overall.

Jon Woodward: "Remove all counters from target opponent"? That made me go "Huh?". The Anunnaki are kinda weird, particularly since Utopia's not had hybrid so far, but nice work mechanically as hybrid designs. I absolutely love Walk through Fire though - what a fantastic red alt-win condition. Nice design work.

Blarg, my favourite designs this week were in my two favourite worlds, Penumbria and Utopia. So I really can't tell whether Ethan and JWoodward did particularly good work, or whether I just like JLoucks's and Devon's worlds that much.
overthink is way too broken. with four of these the right control deck can go through their entire deck and net mana in a single turn. I don't think WotC would ever do the free spell mechanic again on all but the simplest of cards.
"and come back next week—yes, next week, even though the rest of the site will be devoted to the Best of 2010—to read the judges' responses, see who gets cut, and find out the next Design Challenge"

I really, really hope this does not mean that the deadline for the next Design Challenge will be the day after Christmas...

Meta note: I really don’t like the task this round. Not all worlds have a strong enough mechanical identity to make designing cycles that only fit into that world possible.


I’ll be interested to see how the judges grade people’s submissions. Will they give bonus points to those with harder worlds? Or will they grade everyone equally?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


So before I begin looking at individual challenges, let’s look at the criteria for this one.



  1. Each cycle must be a horizontal cycle in all five colors. This means no artifact or land cycles. One cycle must be common, one uncommon and one either rare or mythic rare.

  2. All five cards in each cycle need to be the same card type. Each cycle must use a different card type.

  3. Each cycle must represent the world it is in. These cycles should not be something we could just put into any set, they have to be something that makes sense in the world you're assigned to.

  4. No repeats.

  5. You must design at least five cards. At least five cards must come from outside design. In each case, the five do not have to come from the same cycle. The idea for at least one of the three cycle designs must come from an outside card.

  6. You are not allowed to design cards for your partner. You may give him feedback and advice but you may not design cards for him.

  7. You will be judged on the quality of the cards you designed and how well they fit into the world assigned to you.


Okay, remember these, especially number 3, because I’ll be pointing it out a lot.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Penumbria by Ethan


Show

Commons –


This cycle is basically a noncycle. Besides all having dig and the same mana cost, there’s nothing that ties them all together.


 


Looking at past cycling cycles (since cycling is the closest thing to Dig), I find that they all have something notable about them… “the cycling lands” “the hybrid cyclers”, “the decrees” …


These are just a cycle of  Absorb Vis, which is going to get lost unless you have no other common diggers.


Worse, I think, is that when people realize this is a cycle, they are going to get angry. A cycle of 6 mana cards that you can dig away isn’t all that exciting, and a lot of people aren’t going to want to play.


Uncommons –


This new implementation of reflect is even worse than the original. Why switch the P/T’s? Why make people jump through an extra hoop? Paying an additional cost is fine, but since the entire ability has a to be written out anyway, this ability could just be done with kicker. (If reflect was an additional cost to produce a token copy… it could be it’s own ability, but right now this is additional cost for an additional effect, which is kicker.)


 


Also, this isn’t the cycle. The black one doesn’t follow the other four.


 


*** PEOPLE, READ THE GDS1!


Last GDS, in this exact same round, doing the exact same thing, Mark Globus was chewed out for making one of his cards not work like the rest.


Also, this isn’t a cycle. Unless there are no other uncommon reflectors, no one’s going to see this as a cycle. And if there aren’t any others, why is this ability worded? For the five rare reflectors that might be printed?


Because these create a unique token with a unique ability, for an additional cost, rare would probably be the best place for them.


Rare –


I guess split cards feel light/darkish. I don’t see a pattern though, one side gets:


Hell, Give, Flesh, Love, Now


 


Back, Take, Blood, War, Then


 


Now the question, which side is which? I don’t know. Neither is a good fit. None of those names evoke knowledge and learning. That’s my problem with the cycle, at first blush, it seems like a good idea to use split cards to show off how each side is different, but from an execution standpoint, I don’t see it. Black shows up on both the black and white side, so there’s no real flavorful way to determine what half each side is on.


 


They had the same problem when doing split cards for Ravnica. (Worse actually because they had to be multicolor and the relationship between pairs was already established by the card frame). It took them quite a awhile to come up with good fits for each slot, that also felt like they were part of the guild identity.


 


Verdict:


 


Penumbria is about the conflict between light and dark… I don’t see that here. Now I’ll give you some slack that stretching a five card cycle over two factions would be difficult, but that’s were my slack ends.


 


The first two cycles are pretty generic, using the world’s keywords to carry them. The last are just “some random split cards” that could be put into any set. There’s nothing about them that screams “I’m from Penumbria.”


 


 


Reading the comments


 


I generally don’t read the comments because I think the cards should stand for themselves. But I sometimes miss a few things when not reading them, so here we go.


 


How does tapping creatures evoke tunneling? Is he talking about the names alone? That’s a pretty big stretch to base a cycle on. And why are they all 6 mana?


 


The P/T switching may have fans, but that’s not a good reason to keep it. Combat damage on the stack had  a lot of fans, but they got rid of it anyway. Making the game state even more complicated isn’t a good thing. Especially not for something as trivial as giving control decks more aggressive creatures late game.


 


The rare cycle shows off duality fine… except that you ignored that no one would be able to tell them apart. Yes white is always light, and black is always dark, but each shows up on both sides meaning sides aren’t clearly defined as one color or the other. It get’s pretty bad when there’s neither black nor white on the card. Is blue the light side or red on Give & Take? I don’t know. How about Now & Then?



Epolith by Jonathon Loucks


Show

Commons –


 


A cycle of vanilla creatures. I guess the saving grace is that they are all too big to normally be printed at common (except for green’s). Not much to say here. I’m a bit confused why blue gets large dinosaurs since I thought it was the technological color.


 


Uncommon –


When did Epolith become multicolored? Really this cycle could use a templater’s hand since I can’t figure out what it’s asking of me. All I know is I either need to play multicolor, or multiple colors. Either way, getting an extra card isn’t really worth it. (Also why does doomblade cost 3 more for a situation card draw)


 


Rare –


Yep that’s a cycle.  Assuming there aren’t any other rare Preeminence cards.


 


Verdict:


 


Pretty lackluster this round considering what you had to work with. Epolith is about evolution and change, none of your cards really captured that feeling.


 


None of your cycles are rememberable, they all feel like “mechanical cycles” R&D puts into sets to make them play better, but don’t actually stand out.


 


Given that many people had to work with nothing, and make cycles, I find that you having Epolith and not using it’s flavor as a terrible waste.


 


 


Bonus: Reading the  comments


 


Did Jon see that each color gets it’s own version of evolve? The blue dinosaur isn’t going to help blue’s evolve variant… in fact it’s expense makes it harder to evolve your blue creatures (since you need to cast two spells in a turn).


 


Uncommons that reward multicolor would be fine… in a multicolor block. But on Epolith, it just feel weird. It’s a very, nondirect way of showing evolution, one that doesn’t really translate that well. I would reserve that for the second set where evolution becomes less about physical adaptation and more about technical and social change.


 


Rares are throwaway. Yeah they have the potential to be amazingly powerful, but I can’t imagine a scenario where they’d break out. Actually the opposite where you’re sitting on a large creature, cast the spell, and then your opponent Doom blades your creature.



Malgareth, the UnderPrison by Shawn Main


Show

Meta note: Shawn ignored some of the rules this round and created non-five card cycles.


 


Common –


Whoa! Counter removing alternative costs are back? At common?


 


But that’s not why I’m calling a stop to proceedings, Shawn has brought back -1/-1 counters. The reason this matters? If you are using -1/-1 counters in the set, then the counters you are removing from creatures are going to be -1/-1 counters. So the alternative cost is actually all upsides.


 


* Also, is it a good idea to trash everything the previous designer did up until now? Going from a +1/+1 theme to a -1/-1 theme is a pretty big leap. I wouldn’t feel comfortable making that leap unless my new implementation was a lot better than the previous one.


 


Uncommon –


A 3 card cycle. Pretty good. Taps into the design space for Boggart Shenanigans, for the same reason.


 


Rare –


The watcher cycle confuses me as there’s very little reason not to pick the both effect unless the game state makes you. In which case, the choice seems trivial. These should really be worded without the choice.


 


Mythic cycle –


The shackled legends are pretty cool. I don’t understand what side they are on, but they are cool non-the-less. Though this kind of thing was already done Deity of Scars.


I feel like I’m in Kamigawa again, to see such a mechanical cycle of legends.


Verdict:


I have to give Shawn a fail for this round simply because he didn’t follow the rules. If you are going to break the rules, you should do it for a good reason, and I don’t see it here.


 


I did enjoy the mythics, though I don’t like cycles of legends from a flavorful standpoint. (and since these guys don’t have a common origin, I’d rather see them as nonlegendary)


 


Bonus:


 


Well I see that my two major arguments against Shawn’s design was already resolved. Shawn got permission for both the three-card cycles, and to switch to -1/-1 counters.


 


In that light, Shawn’s submission is one of the better ones. I’m not sure about alternative costs at common, or that the watcher cycle needs the choice, but overall it’s a solid submission.



Golamo by Devon Rule


Show

Commons –


The common cycle feels a little forced to me. I’d actually be happy with a cycle of large French vanilla creatures. Adding the enchanted clause just muddles up their text box.


A rare/mythic cycle of Uril, the Miststalker who get better the more you enchant them would be better I think.


It’s also a bit weird that blue’s “bonus” takes away a drawback. If each color’s allowed to great it’s size limit for common, why is blue still held by it’s normal restrictions?


 


Uncommon –


Yep that’s a cycle. I don’t think having a repeatable enchantment destroyer in an aura block is the best idea.


 


Also the green one violates the “don’t make the player shuffle a lot” design rule.


 


Rare –


Getting three times something’s a pretty cool idea. Though I think doubling it would be better.


 


The black one’s a miss since you aren’t tripling a resource. Shouldn’t it just put tokens onto the battlefield for each creature you control (and likely moved to white or green).


 


The white one seems brutal in a life gain deck or in multiplayer.


 


This also fails the “can’t go into any other set” criteria since this cycle has nothing to do with Galamo besides it’s names.


 


Verdict:


A fine submission, a few things I would have done differently, but that’s a matter of taste.


 


Bonus: Comments


A good synopsis of the design process. And good justifications for all decisions made.


 


Good job Devon.


Wodotha by Scott Van Essen


Show

Common –


Unless Requiem isn’t in common, the cycle is going to get lost. The only thing that ties them together is the doubling aspect.


 


The fact that they are all sorceries confuses me. Requiem works best on instants, so doing a cycle of sorceries just makes these cards very one toned (Play post combat after you lose a creature to combat damage).


 


Even if you were fine with this, some of the abilities just don’t work all that well. 4 damage for two mana at sorcery speed seems about right, so requiem seems like it’s weakening a fine card.


 


The only reason I can see that these are sorceries is because of black’s discard. But black could do many other things at instant speed. (The token producers would also likely have to go to one token and two for requiem)


 


Uncommon –


I don’t like the idea of a cycle that hoses one of the block’s main themes. Blight is already a fairly large investment to pull off, why you’d want to make cards to weaken it is beyond me.


 


Rare –


Again, I don’t like cycles of legends. This isn’t really much of a cycle. All the same cmc and death triggers… feels kind of forced. Also why does the red one care about one creature when the rest of them care about all of something.


 


Verdict:


A cycle of sorceries that work best as instants, a cycle of enchantments that nerf a key mechanic in the set, and a cycle of rares who’s only tie is that they do things when they die.


 


Not a great submission in my opinion.  


 


Bonus: Comments


“I chose sorceries because instants make Requiem too easy to use.”


Isn’t that the point? You don’t want people to play the cards, realize they can never use them, and then stop playing them. While R&D often says they do things “to make it more strategic for the player” normally the underlying reason is that they want to make the game less complicated for the player. (Like why equipment and level up are sorcery speed abilities).


 


The reasoning behind the aura cycle is sound, but ignores that it hoses blight. A single white aura would make sense, having a cycle of them doesn’t.


 


I did not get the “escape from blight” feel that the Mythics were suppose to represent. In a set full of death triggered cards, they just blended in.



Utopia by Jonathan Woodward


Show

Meta note: I think Jon had the hardest challenge of the six. Utopia has strong flavor/mechanics for each color, but lacks a glue to tie them together.


 


Common –


A cycle of charms seems a bit weird. Besides the white and black one, any of them could go into any set.


 


Uncommon –


I actually had to look at the comments to see why there are hybrids in the set. I’ll address the hybrids in the bonus section.


 


As for the cards… they confuse me. They are like allies, which fits into the “creatures matter” theme that runs through Utopia… but not much else.


 


This cycle could easily go into any set.


 


Rare –


Alternative win cards is pretty cool. Though only the black one really has anything to do with the set.


 


Also this is a sticking point with Ken, so I don’t know why it keeps happening, but don’t have cards that care about having more than “all opponents”.


 


I do like the red one, as it plays up a fun minigame.


 


Verdict:


All but three cards out of the fifteen scream Utopia. The rest could go into any set. Worse, they rely on the same tactic of using specific mechanics from each color to achieve their goal.


 


Bonus: Comment


This round was a chance to tie the colors together more, I’m sad that wasn’t done.


 


Hybrid’s a good idea to distinguish invaders, but has nothing to do with Utopia’s themes. Utopia isn’t multicolor, in fact it’s very focused on monocolor at the moment.


 


Also if Anunnaki are suppose to represent a new tribe, and not just a cycle of five cards, then this isn’t a cycle. It’s just five creatures from that tribe.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


It should be interesting to see how the judges grade this week, given the difficulties of this challenge.


Everyone performed excellently given that they had to learn the in’s and out’s of a new world.

… and then, the squirrels came.

Does "remove all counters from target opponent" actually DO anything? My initial reaction was "oh, something that deals with poison counters..." "... that only removes them from my opponent... awkward."
Am I missing some other fringe use of the card?

Also, for Hybrid effects, each individual color needs to be able to do that effect, right? Is Blue allowed to "flicker"?


Finally, Overthink needs to cost 4UUUUUU.
That card is obviously completely broken, and I wouldn't be shocked if it's grounds for losing this round. Any designer who submits that card with a straight face is missing one or more fundamental design abilities.


Does "remove all counters from target opponent" actually DO anything? My initial reaction was "oh, something that deals with poison counters..." "... that only removes them from my opponent... awkward."
Am I missing some other fringe use of the card?




Nope, not missing a thing. Counters on players will never reach the critical mass needed to actually reference it outside of a Poison set. The only reason Proliferate cares about it is because it started out adding poison and -1/-1 counters. Had it been made for the original Mirrodin, it wouldn't have even mentioned counters on players.

Also, for Hybrid effects, each individual color needs to be able to do that effect, right? Is Blue allowed to "flicker"?



Flickering is part of blue's domain, just something it doesn't do often. In fact flickering was a subtheme in Shadowmoor for blue/white.

Also hybrids don't need to take from both colors, there's a subset of hybrids that treat themselves as multicolored cards. Giant Solifuge and Augury Adept are examples of such cards.

For the record, Maro hates these types of cards, so you shouldn't do them if you want to impress him.

"and come back next week—yes, next week, even though the rest of the site will be devoted to the Best of 2010—to read the judges' responses, see who gets cut, and find out the next Design Challenge"

I really, really hope this does not mean that the deadline for the next Design Challenge will be the day after Christmas...



Why? It's the day after Christmas, the contestants should have plenty of time ot finish up.
… and then, the squirrels came.

Does "remove all counters from target opponent" actually DO anything? My initial reaction was "oh, something that deals with poison counters..." "... that only removes them from my opponent... awkward."
Am I missing some other fringe use of the card? 



Utopia is the home of gold counters.  See Devon's submission for challenge 1.

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog

Does "remove all counters from target opponent" actually DO anything? My initial reaction was "oh, something that deals with poison counters..." "... that only removes them from my opponent... awkward."
Am I missing some other fringe use of the card?




It's probably supposed to remove gold counters.
These are just a cycle of  Absorb Vis, which is going to get lost unless you have no other common diggers.



But Absorb Vis is also part of a very succesful just a cycle.

Did Jon see that each color gets it’s own version of evolve? The blue dinosaur isn’t going to help blue’s evolve variant… in fact it’s expense makes it harder to evolve your blue creatures (since you need to cast two spells in a turn).



From the comments I got that Jonathon decided all the triggers were the green one:

Dinosaurs! Mechanically these beasts not only power up Evolve (whenever a creature with a larger power enters the battlefield, get a +1/+1 counter) but preeminence as well.

 

Also this is a sticking point with Ken, so I don’t know why it keeps happening, but don’t have cards that care about having more than “all opponents”.



Well, for a wincon I say you should do a lotta work =p

Hybrid’s a good idea to distinguish invaders, but has nothing to do with Utopia’s themes. Utopia isn’t multicolor, in fact it’s very focused on monocolor at the moment.



And Hybrid is awesome for monocolored play, as it increases the number of cards that can go into any monocolored deck. So from a gameplay-pov, it might work out rather nicely.
But Absorb Vis is also part of a very succesful just a cycle.



Right, but that cycle had a distinct feature. They are the only cards in the game with Basic landcycling. The common dig cycle has nothing special about them but having very high costs.

I should have probaly choosen a card that wasn't arlready part of a cycle, but the point is still valid, that you shouldn't have a cycle that's only perceived to be a cycle because of a high converted mana cost. There should be some twist on dig to make it stand out.

Did Jon see that each color gets it’s own version of evolve? The blue dinosaur isn’t going to help blue’s evolve variant… in fact it’s expense makes it harder to evolve your blue creatures (since you need to cast two spells in a turn).



From the comments I got that Jonathon decided all the triggers were the green one:

Dinosaurs! Mechanically these beasts not only power up Evolve (whenever a creature with a larger power enters the battlefield, get a +1/+1 counter) but preeminence as well.




That's a pretty big thing to miss. IMO. Since these cards are likely to be played with the commons, and they aren't going to jive.

Hybrid’s a good idea to distinguish invaders, but has nothing to do with Utopia’s themes. Utopia isn’t multicolor, in fact it’s very focused on monocolor at the moment.



And Hybrid is awesome for monocolored play, as it increases the number of cards that can go into any monocolored deck. So from a gameplay-pov, it might work out rather nicely.


Hybrid has nothing to do with the set. Everyone made it extremely clear in the first round that you need a damn good reason to do hybrid mana in a set. Hybrid doesn't accomplish anything here, so it shouldn't be used.
… and then, the squirrels came.
Regarding the split cards:

We had to follow the normal split card conventions of making sure that each color of the cycle did not appear on the same side of two different split cards, so we didn't end up with Light consistently on one side and Dark on the other, unfortunately.  Here's how it broke down:
Hell // Back was Dark // Light
All the others were Light // Dark.
  While it may not be obvious from the NAMES of the cards which side is supposed to be Light and which is Dark, I think that most of the EFFECTS have a positive or negative connotation, and the art should help to make things clearer as well. 

  Jon and I were in constant email communication.  I encouraged him to try to find a mechanic that could evolve over the course of the block.  I think that his "color matters" theme that charts the course of mankind from the bare struggle for existence to the eventual ease of civilization was a perfectly reasonable thing to include in his submission. 

  -Ethan Fleischer
I think overthink is probably deceptively fair in constructed. Its a 7 cost, triple blue sorcery that wants multiple big creatures out (since being countered by removal isn't exactly what you want to happen to your 7 cost cards). I dunno about you guys, but normally in blue decks I've played, once I have a large creature on the board that stays on the board long enough for me to untap, I'm pretty far ahead in that game. A card that sits in your hand until you've resolved a dragon doesn't seem like the most powerful thing ever. Its certainly a card you would have to pay attention to when designing cards for the next couple of sets, but as long as you don't make some easily castable way to get multiple 4/x's or bigger into play, it seems like its porbably fine.

Of course, it, the green one, and the black one are all unbelievable good in limited.
"and come back next week—yes, next week, even though the rest of the site will be devoted to the Best of 2010—to read the judges' responses, see who gets cut, and find out the next Design Challenge"

I really, really hope this does not mean that the deadline for the next Design Challenge will be the day after Christmas...


Why? It's the day after Christmas, the contestants should have plenty of time ot finish up.

I don't like that they may be forcing contestants and audience participants to take significant amounts of time away from their families during a holiday weekend for the sake of the contest.  It's also likely that a lot of people who are participating will be travelling on Sunday.  It would be very easy to avoid those issues if Wizards cared to.
Hybrid has nothing to do with the set. Everyone made it extremely clear in the first round that you need a damn good reason to do hybrid mana in a set. Hybrid doesn't accomplish anything here, so it shouldn't be used.



Well, flavorfully it's a plane with 5 very isolated-developed cultures, invaded by general-generic hybrid enemies. Mechanically it's about 5 distinct playing styles that get the critical amount of cards in limited because of the hybrids.

I don't know if this actually works, but it does sound like a solid concept to me =)

(Btw I agree (or see your point) with a lot of stuff you said, my comments were just where I thought you judged with incomplete information)

Regarding the split cards:
We had to follow the normal split card conventions of making sure that each color of the cycle did not appear on the same side of two different split cards



Well, it only dawned on me after the deadline that perhaps the cycle could get away with breaking that convention, and instead go for Light on one side on all, I'm very sorry for that Embarassed


Dark//Light
:B://:G:
:B://:W:
:R://:W:
:U://:R:
:G://:U:


Light//Dark
:W://:R:
:W://:B:
:G://:B:
:U://:G:
:R://:U:


(Still, a convention is better than no convention at all, so the current is still better than just the 5 'best' split cards lumped together)

I'm also very sorry that I didn't thought of this better wording for Give in time:

Give
2:R::R:
Sorcery
Target opponent gains control of target permanent

I know enough people who'd enjoy that in multiplayer. "Here player B, because you've been so nice you can have player C's Darksteel Colossus".

Regarding the split cards:

We had to follow the normal split card conventions of making sure that each color of the cycle did not appear on the same side of two different split cards, so we didn't end up with Light consistently on one side and Dark on the other, unfortunately.  Here's how it broke down:
Hell // Back was Dark // Light
All the others were Light // Dark.
  While it may not be obvious from the NAMES of the cards which side is supposed to be Light and which is Dark, I think that most of the EFFECTS have a positive or negative connotation, and the art should help to make things clearer as well. 



The idea that Light = good, Dark = bad, is a bit boring. I was under the impression that the light side and dark side had themes that went deeper than "good" and "evil".

I'll go through them again and see if i missed something (which i'm prone to doing)

  Jon and I were in constant email communication.  I encouraged him to try to find a mechanic that could evolve over the course of the block.  I think that his "color matters" theme that charts the course of mankind from the bare struggle for existence to the eventual ease of civilization was a perfectly reasonable thing to include in his submission. 



It seems to me that civilization and social evolution would be more fitting for the second or third set not the first. It's not a big deal, it just seems weird in a set that's not about multicolor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, i went back and checked out all the abilities of the split cards. Using what i know about the light/dark conventions.

Here's what i got:

Light mechanics:

Look at the top 10 cards of your library. Put two of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Dark mechanics:

Put up to two target nonland, noncreature permanents on the bottom of their owners’ libraries in any order.

^ Assuming you switched "put on the bottom of the library" from light to dark.


Every other mechanic could fit either side. While split cards are a good way of showing off the duality of two opposing factions, having uneven factions leads to problems. Ravnica got around this by having a ten card cycle of split cards.

But in a set where white is always on one side, and black is always on another, you can't avoid the problem of having one card not follow the rest.
… and then, the squirrels came.
These are just some of my initial reactions. I've not read anyone else's comments yet. Standard disclaimers apply. I fully accept that you've all done far better than I probably would have. No more caveats.

Ethan Fleischer
In the deep places of the earth, you can spread the light or embrace the darkness.

C: I'm not 100% sure about dig since it doesn't really embrace the duality of the set. If it exists, though, these are the kind of cards it's best on.

U: The twist on illuminate actually tripped me up until I read your comments - I obviously didn't read the card carefully enough. Would others have the same issue? I like how it's an optional trigger now, to reduce complexity.

R: Brilliant. Love the names, mechanics match each name and are obviously part of a pair. And reflect the duality of the set perfectly.

Jonathon Loucks
It's evolution or extinction when hours pass in the blink of an eye.

c: I wouldn't notice these as a cycle. You succeeded in not being the most complex submission but this is a step too far. You could have had some simple ability on all of them to tie them together maybe.

U: What? Where did this colour thing come from? It doesn't seem at all related to the theme.

R: I like the idea behind the cycle. Overtime/Overwork seem like game finishers. Overcome too. I suppose they're allowed to be at 6 mana.

I'd personally switch G/W - the flavour seems the other way around.

Scott Van Essen
Armies rallied to repel the blight. But when it arrived, they saw nothing.

C: I wasn't sold on requiem but I enjoy these cards. Elegant doubling of effects and (apart from U) I could imagine playing these without a creature having died under certain situations.

U: It seems like a worse totem-armour since the creature must be cast again and a tenuous connection to blight.

M: So, 3 are simple return-to-hand effects. (Of which W seems underpowered. Maybe it could have involved returning enemy permanents for each permanent you return ?) R/B are different so that shows the colours the blight is in. R is kinda complicated and clunky though.

Shawn Main
You can barely remember the Sun, but you'll sacrifice anything for a stab at freedom.

c: This is a cool cycle. Might be overpowered? I find it interesting how the B one is like Fate transfer within the set but has other applications outside of it. I like how you ensured that the player must be on-colour.

U: The R/G ones feel like fungal growth. B not so much.

R: Mega swingy! I'd really want to cast these! Is it OK to require the opponent to have an enchantment for the full effect? Also (more importantly), why the one-or-both? I get that sometimes you don't want a library to shuffle and sometimes the U one might be bad if you're forced to copy a creature with negative effects. However, these cost enough that the shuffling will be infrequent enough to not bother anyone and if you're only able to steal a bad creature, you're probably not going to enjoy only getting an extra one of yours.

M - Really clever. I'd be excited to play with these and see how they pan out. B seems overpowered, since turn 3 you hit for 4, turn 4 you hit for 6 (and if you have one more piece of removal in your hand or if they missed 1or2 creature-drops, the enemy's board will be empty). Should red have a flying 2/2 for 2?

Devon Rule
Geysers of mana erupt over Golamo, warping its guardians into something larger...

C: Interesting and ties into the theme... I'd be more excited if they were one mana cheaper though. Being enchanted doesn't seem very simple. I like the blue one's 'benefit'.

U: Yes! Green sounds way overpowered... I like how I could imagine playing them as creatures straight away on a clear battlefield (or even to force the opponent to block a small creature depending on board state) or using them as an aura.

R: LOVE! I like how they (mostly) all erupt based on an accumulation of something. W sounds overpowered but tripling 3 is 9... and it doesn't affect board position... All seem exciting. Except for G maybe. Do I really want 21 lands? Took me a while to appreciate that they all triple but after a few seconds, I had an extra thing to smile about. OH! I just noticed the connection between tripling and 3 coloured mana!

Jonathan Woodward
Invasion strikes Utopia -- now the tools of peace must become the weapons of war!

C: I liked how the WUB spells all have a way to replace themselves with another card but then RG broke the cycle. They all have at least one combat trick: nice. What if G could make a 1/1 creature? Then that would almost be like replacing itself - turning itself into a creature. W could instead reduce damage dealt by an attacking creature? Then R would be the only one missing that function which follows red's style. I

U: A great return to the idea of hybrid invaders. I like how they're all destructive.

R: Fun! I have no idea how U should win though... could these be Mythic Rare?
Ethan didn't make his common and uncommon cycles cohesive enough.  For the common, one card says "tap 3", the next two have 2 targets each, and the red and the green one have 1 target.  Should have picked 1 number of targets for the whole cycle.  For the uncommons, double agent does not fit.  Also, switching the power/toughness of the tokens was a huge mistake.  Players will intuitively think that the P/T of the tokens are the same as the printed card they came from.  It's clever and I "get" the reason he did it, but he needs new playtesters if this one got by his.

Jonathon certainly took the judges warnings to heart.  I'm not sure if the judges will like the "2-colors matter" theme, since it dosen't have much synergy with "big creatures matter".

All the others looked really solid, on a pretty equal level.  Tough call who gets eliminated.
To those concerned about our Christmas breaks:

The Official Rules give dates for all the challenges. Both the fourth and fifth challenges are eleven days long - due the next Sunday after the week they are assigned. There has been a certain amount of speculation on exactly what this means.

We'll be given our next challenge shortly before Christmas, but it won't be due until 2011. 
Great Designer Search 2 Finalist - If you're interested in getting involved, check out my Wiki Page.
Wow. I completely missed the Utopian boat. I thought Utopia was about the colors warring amongst themselves - the world is utopian not because there is peace, but because the colors have all realized their ideal as five identities that do not harmoniously co-exist. As such, I expected a cycle of cards triggering off something like "CARDNAME costs more to cast for each color of mana your lands could produce." A renamed Fabricate would have a casting cost of that would actually cost if you control solely Islands, if you control an Arcane Sanctum, or if you control a Joiner Adept and any lands whatsoever.

Well, bring on the invaders. Repel the Clans!

long live House Steiner

To those concerned about our Christmas breaks:



Don't worry. I'm not concerned about your Christmas break. \:>
Wow, Skibo_the_first has a massive bee in his bonnet about the split cards. I thought they were a clever way to work with the light and dark dichotomy, and I thought it was obvious which side of each was the light (=benefitting oneself) and which side was the dark (=harming an opponent). 

And people also seem to be hating on the cycle of common Diggers. Did those people even notice the Shards of Alara cycles such as Yoked Plowbeast, Jungle Weaver, Ridge Rannet? It was a Naya cycle of common semi-vanilla gargantua (creatures with power >= 5) with cycling. Both Ethan's Penumbria dig cycle and Jon's Epolith vanilla cycle seem eminently fine to follow in the footsteps of this cycle. 

Similarly, Shawn's Malgareth Native cycle is very reminiscent of the Jund uncommon graveyard-trigger cycle, Algae Gharial - Rockslide Elemental - Scavenger Drake.
Wow, Skibo_the_first has a massive bee in his bonnet about the split cards. I thought they were a clever way to work with the light and dark dichotomy, and I thought it was obvious which side of each was the light (=benefitting oneself) and which side was the dark (=harming an opponent). 



To quote Maro:


You don't get to choose what defines you - you are the sum of everything you do. You might focus on the big things, but the little things matter just as much. My entire relationship to Betty was defined by an act so small that I can't remember it. That didn't lessen its impact on Betty, and it taught me the importance of taking the things that matter down to the smallest detail.

 



Breath of Darigaaz


This lesson couldn't be more connected to Magic design. I'm always obsessing on little details in a design and I'm often told, “No one will notice.”

 


My reply is always, “Someone will notice. Someone always notices.”


What makes good design isn't just the big picture, but the tiny executions. My favorite example of this is the kicker ability from Invasion. In design and development, we decided to differentiate colorless mana kickers from colored mana kickers. The idea was that adding colorless mana could make the effect bigger, but only colored mana could add an additional ability. For instance, a direct damage spell that did extra damage (i.e. ..."OpenTip(event, "Breath of Darigaaz")" class="nodec">Breath of Darigaaz) would be kicked for colorless mana, while one that added an extra effect, such as “cannot be regenerated” (i.e. ..."OpenTip(event, "Scorching Lava")" class="nodec">Scorching Lava) would need to be kicked with Red mana.


There was much debate at the time if such a differentiation was necessary. A year later when the set came out, I noted how multiple articles that talked about kicker pointed out this detail. And in each case it was seen as a positive sign that R&D cared so much about the details, which, as a designer makes me feel great, because I do care. Little things, in fact, do mean a lot.




Having all the split cards line up to clearly show the difference between light and dark may not be a big deal to someone who knows the differences already, but without watermarks or different frames, it's going to be lost on anyone else. These split cards don't feel like they could go into any set.

The split between light and dark (as far as i can figure) isn't between "helping you" and "harming your opponent", but between "knowledeg" and "secrets". In fact i think the majority of light cards hurt your opponent more than dark cards (Light has a heavy theme of tapping creatures, and messing with Morph creatures).

It's a good idea, but required more than three days to flesh out. Just like the Ravnica split cards, there are alot of restrictions on split cards, and they just take a long time to work out.


But we'll see in a week, i've been wrong before, and you never know what the judges will pick on.

And people also seem to be hating on the cycle of common Diggers. Did those people even notice the Shards of Alara cycles such as Yoked Plowbeast, Jungle Weaver, Ridge Rannet? It was a Naya cycle of common semi-vanilla gargantua (creatures with power >= 5) with cycling. Both Ethan's Penumbria dig cycle and Jon's Epolith vanilla cycle seem eminently fine to follow in the footsteps of this cycle. 



I always assumed Yoked plowbeast was a cycle.... i just never got around to finding the other two. Yep, they are a cycle, but not all that exciting.

I always remember a line from Aaron (from the first time this challange was given)

Aaron: Hrm. Conrad's commons don't feel like a cycle to me, they feel like “some cantrips.” Granted, I imagine we have or will cycle cantrips at common, but what is trying to show me here?



Yeah the dig cycle's a cycle... but ignoring the high mana cost, they aren't a cycle (unless there aren't any other dig cards at common, which is unlikely). At least Absorb Vis had a twist on cycling to make that cycle different from other cycling cycles.
… and then, the squirrels came.
I've written some reviews on the wiki here.

I've written about 5 of the contestants, working on the 6th one. 
Goblin Artisans - A Magic Design Blog by GDS2 Contestants and Collaborators
See, when you start viewing this contest as a strange twist on a freak show, it suddenly becomes very entertaining. Some contestants feel like they are trying really hard on submitting the worst ideas possible. The judges will probably disqualify Shawn Main for being the only one that did a good job this round, but was unable to do what he was asked to do.

On a serious note, Jonathon Loucks is the one that will bite the dust, because he submitted a vanilla cycle followed by a cycle of cantrips, even after the precedent in #GDS1 where a contestant was eliminated for submitting a cycle of cantrips. I hope you like the taste of the bullet. Laughing
See, when you start viewing this contest as a strange twist on a freak show, it suddenly becomes very entertaining. Some contestants feel like they are trying really hard on submitting the worst ideas possible. The judges will probably disqualify Shawn Main for being the only one that did a good job this round, but was unable to do what he was asked to do.

On a serious note, Jonathon Loucks is the one that will bite the dust, because he submitted a vanilla cycle followed by a cycle of cantrips, even after the precedent in #GDS1 where a contestant was eliminated for submitting a cycle of cantrips. I hope you like the taste of the bullet. Laughing



Did you read the note? About how Shawn Main got permission from MaRo to do a split cycle?
See, when you start viewing this contest as a strange twist on a freak show, it suddenly becomes very entertaining. Some contestants feel like they are trying really hard on submitting the worst ideas possible. The judges will probably disqualify Shawn Main for being the only one that did a good job this round, but was unable to do what he was asked to do.

On a serious note, Jonathon Loucks is the one that will bite the dust, because he submitted a vanilla cycle followed by a cycle of cantrips, even after the precedent in #GDS1 where a contestant was eliminated for submitting a cycle of cantrips. I hope you like the taste of the bullet. Laughing



There's a real problem with the reviews in this thread, and that's the fact that almost all of them are completely wrong. For every card, reviewers have given ten wildly different opinions.

I see a lot of people giving strong opinions, without actually knowing what they're talking about. Unless you've specifically studied Magic design, you probably don't know anything about it. I don't claim that my opinions are necessarily correct, but I do have a very good understanding of design.

I see numerous obvious (to me) mistakes in many parts of the submissions, but other reviews just seem to miss these things entirely, and give the thumbs up to the cards in question.

\:>