01/12/2011 Feature: "GDS2 Episode 5: "Booster Shot""

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This thread is for discussion of this Feature Article, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
looks like the curse of the bottom row is broken.
Goodbye Sanjaya.

I mean, Loucks. 
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000) Check out Ars Arcanum, my stat based series on Magic Limited, over at PureMTGO. Here is a link to the archive: http://goo.gl/Zvh6Q

looks like the curse of the bottom row is broken.

Also the curse of East Coast residency, as Shawn again did well this round.

I will say that being last alphabetically (which is how the top and bottom rows were determined) felt like it often caused people to read, comment on, or review my set last, which may not have helped my submissions.  Hopefully the judges at least spent enough time in a non-alphabetic manner that there was no direct effect on that end.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
Can't say I'm surprised by the final ranking of the contestants, having had a week to look over all the submissions.  @ mana (I hate that I pronounce that mentally as "at mana," E mana or L mana or whatever would handle more smoothly) presented an intriguing first impression when Loucks first posted it, but I became concerned when his final pack eliminated refract and dig entirely.  Speaking of community contributions above, Loucks' was also the least-organized of the final five hub pages.  Shawn, Devon, Scott, and Ethan all (eventually) kept an updated skeleton, with the first three providing separate pages for each card.  Johnathon posted a sample booster but didn't update it much, if at all, in response to the community feedback, and didn't post a whole lot on the wiki in general.  The most active page doesn't need belong to the best designer, but encouraging community collaboration can only help the candidates.

Someone (probably multiple people) called the Intro Pack challenge a week or two back.  I like that "The deck needs to be fun to play." is one of the rules.  We can't have anyone turning in a terribly boring set of cards thinking they've found a loophole.

I realize Ethan wasn't wanting for praise this week, but did anyone else feel that Ken's comments in his U3 and conclusion were a bit unfair?  MaRo has noted many times that the key quality in this challenge is vision.  Is it such a bad thing that cards are emerging fully-formed from a candidate's head?  Stepping on the toes of other departments seems more in the realm of office management, certainly one metric on which to measure a potential employee but pretty far outside the scope as stated of this contest.

Congratulations to Shawn on a well-deserved W.

Pretty interesting results. I'm surprised Devon was knocked so much, as i thought he was going to get a little more flexibility. (Then again i also thought Willaims was going to get another week before the hammer fell).

I disagree heavily with Maro on the Ape Human tokens. (and Merfolk Fish tokens). They make no sense even from a biological standpoint.

I'm a little surprised Maro didn't go off on a tanget about Blight given that he told Shawn it needed work several weeks ago when it was introduced and it still hasn't changed. (But i find the inner workings of Maro's brain to be a confusing place at times). Though the Intro pack challange is a great place to show off what Blight can do. (Or assault... assault's more likely)

I'm also a bit surprised no judge pointed out how random Scott's rare was.

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

As for the challange... good luck guys. That's Crazy with a capital C. Though I guess two weeks and being able to work alone can help.

Now pointless guessing:

Epolith:
Green / something else = Evolve

Wodotha:*
Black / red = Blight
or
White / Red = Assault

Utopia:
Black / Blue = Gold

Malgerath:**
Black / Green = Persist

* While seeing blight with a full deck behind it would be sweet, i think assault's the way to go. I can't imagine a blight deck being fun to play with/against. "And i kill that... then that.... then that.... good game." Shawn has enough brownie points to make it to the top 3 without doing blight. I wouldn't take the risk.

** I really have no idea. Persist is the best mechanic to build a deck around, and because of the odd nature of the rules, he could include a few discharge spells in there.

… and then, the squirrels came.
This is the point at which I stop reading the series, I suppose.

From my perspective WotC has almost as much to learn from Loucks as he has from them. I hope the audience WotC seem to think they're making sets for appreciate the efforts they're putting in to keep things simple, because I certainly don't.

After all the rude comments about the original version of Living Reflection I tested it out on my nine year old daughter. She had no trouble with the concept at all. And her usual W/G deck already has multiple types of tokens in it (from Icatian Crier and Presence of Gond) so it's not as though that's a barrier either.

Maybe in some future year WotC should try releasing an extra set that kills a few of their sacred cows regarding complexity (everything except lines of text, about which I think they have the right idea)? I guarantee it would see more draft play on MtGO than anything they'd ever done before.
I call Ethan as the winner of GDS2.

My guess is that Shawn's "blight" theme is going to expire soon. It can be properly-executed (as it is), but it just can't go far beyond that. It's a simple linear mechanic that just blows stuff up all the time.

11) Uncommon Card #1 –
Initial Half
Poisonous Amphibian
[Chah invented creatures that flip into Equipment, the death trigger was my idea, and this specific card idea was Jay Treat's]
[Poison Dart Frog - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/...]
2B
Creature - Salamander
2/1
Deathtouch
When CARDNAME is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, return it to the battlefield flipped.

Flipped Half
Poison Dart Blowgun
Artifact - Equipment
Equipped creature has deathtouch.
Equip 2


Art: A brightly-patterned Eryops sitting on a log. Flipped, the log becomes a blowgun.



I like this... but as has been said: why a flip card?


Why not two cards:


Poisonous Amphibian 2B
Creature - Salamander
2/1
Deathtouch
When CARDNAME is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may exile CARDNAME and tap an untapped creature you control, if you do search your library for a card named Poison Dart Blowgun and put it unto the battlefield attached to the tapped creature.


Poison Dart Blowgun 1
Artifact - Equipment
Equipped creature has deathtouch.
Equip 2


The creature could be simplified but the fact a creature must be tapped is flavourful, the additional cost of tapping a creature to cast that 0 mana equipment, while clunky, is interesting from a flavour perspective.


The naming of a specific card doesn't appear a lot in Magic but both cards are usable separately.

Rules Advisor

The Basic rulebook, read it! A lot of basic questions are answered there!

How to autocard :
Type [c]Black Lotus[/c] to get Black Lotus.
Type [c=Black Lotus]The Overpowered One[/c] to get The Overpowered One.

1) Common Card #1 –
Being from Below
4@
Creature – Horror
5/4
(@ Can only be paid with colorless mana.)

Art: A pale gray horror emerging from a large dark crack in the ground.



Small not to KEN and MP: this can be cast using 4 different colours of mana, it only needs ONE colourless.


D'uh...

Rules Advisor

The Basic rulebook, read it! A lot of basic questions are answered there!

How to autocard :
Type [c]Black Lotus[/c] to get Black Lotus.
Type [c=Black Lotus]The Overpowered One[/c] to get The Overpowered One.

Sorry for multipost but we got interesting designs this week.

3) Common Card #3 –

Pale Elder
2G
Creature – Elf Druid
1/2
T: Add 2 to your mana pool.


Art: An elf with pale skin drawing dark energy from the ground.


Pale Elder
G
Creature – Elf Druid
1/2
T, 1: Add 2 to your mana pool.

Problems solved, no?

Rules Advisor

The Basic rulebook, read it! A lot of basic questions are answered there!

How to autocard :
Type [c]Black Lotus[/c] to get Black Lotus.
Type [c=Black Lotus]The Overpowered One[/c] to get The Overpowered One.

KEN: Part Wild Colos, part Lava Axe, the Enraged Goblin represents the first red card a player should see from Malgareth. If your opponent is at 8 life, feel free to rage 3 during their end step, then rage 3 again during your turn for an 8/2. We don't print "end-step-loophole-matters" cards, so something needs to change here.


The thing that needs to change is Ken's ignorance of the rules.  You can activate the rage ability during your opponent's end step, and the Goblin won't be sacrificed until your next end step, but the +3/+0 will only last until your opponent's cleanup step.
I call Ethan as the winner of GDS2.

My guess is that Shawn's "blight" theme is going to expire soon. It can be properly-executed (as it is), but it just can't go far beyond that. It's a simple linear mechanic that just blows stuff up all the time.



That's ridiculous. First off, MaRo said himself that "The winner of the GDS2 will be the best designer, not the best design." Even if Ethan's world concept is more likely to actually see print than Shawn's, that is not what will determine who wins the competition. Furthermore, the winner of the GDS2 will be determined in part by the interview, so the relative quality of their sets doesn't really factor into that aspect.
MR: [...] Fortunately, all of the above are things that can be learned (as opposed to idea generation, which cannot),



Seems someone has forgotten all about A whack on the side of the head... =p
Meh, nevermind, not gonna be an ass.

VVVVVV Yeah I was both wrong and a jerk, which is why I edited it out VVVVVV 
Ken Nagle: "Removing the parameter makes them less common and means you don't get to make White Mana1/1 survival 2 and next set White Mana 0/1 survival 3, but maybe Magic is better with one rare Green Mana0/1 survival instead."


Ken,

In the future, please ask Mark Rosewater to explain to you how Magic rules work before attempting to comment on a proposed mechanic.

Head designer, ladies and gentlemen. 



Uh, what? He's saying that if there's a limit on how big the creature can go, the mechanic is much more likely to be at common, but maybe it's better to have no limit and only put it at rare, anyway. He was sort of being glib, in that what he really means is that the mechanic shouldn't have a keyword at all, but he definitely understands the rules here.
Kind of interesting to read that Ken expected Chandra to be Magic's first colourless Planeswalker:

"I expected Chandra here as the first colorless planeswalker—she has a colorless story arc with the Purifying Fire and the Eye of Ugin"

This makes it strange that the latest iteration of Chandra, Chandra Ablaze, is actually one of the most colour-intensive of all the Planeswalkers printed so far - two of her three abilities require you to be playing with a decent concentration of Red cards, her first ability really demands a LOT of Red cards to be truly useful (Nissa and Koth are pretty close behind though). Seems to be a disconnect between creative and design there.

Also, goblinrecruiter makes an excellent point. The least these applicants deserve is to have their designs assessed based on a correct understanding of the rules. I suspect the official retort would be something like "ah, well if even a designer gets confused about how the card works that's a sure sign it's too complicated!" but I think that's a cop-out. Please really think about how the rules actually work before assessing and commenting on (or for that matter, designing) cards, eh Wizards?

[Edit: MaRo's comment on the same card shows that he has also made the same mistake. A pity. And the comment above his brings out that hoary old business of "players don't like killing their own stuff" - PLEASE reconsider this position. I am sure you have data that says "new players don't like cards with drawbacks", but that is EXACTLY what is great about them (and I'm not just bashing noobs here, please read on). If you go back to those same new players six months later they will have developed and worked out why the cards with drawbacks were actually better than the cards without drawbacks that they had been playing with. For me it was painlands, the day I understood that damaging yourself occasionally was far less significant than having smooth mana was the day I truly fell in love with Magic and its sophistication. And I don't believe the counter-argument that those new players won't still be around in six months to make that discovery if we put them off with drawback cards - because the no-drawback cards will still be there for them to use as well.]
"Personally, I believe $50 is the roof that someone will pay for a Standard card, Mythic or otherwise." - Ben Bleiweiss, StarCity Games ----------------------------------------------------------
I call Ethan as the winner of GDS2.

My guess is that Shawn's "blight" theme is going to expire soon. It can be properly-executed (as it is), but it just can't go far beyond that. It's a simple linear mechanic that just blows stuff up all the time.



That's ridiculous. First off, MaRo said himself that "The winner of the GDS2 will be the best designer, not the best design." Even if Ethan's world concept is more likely to actually see print than Shawn's, that is not what will determine who wins the competition. Furthermore, the winner of the GDS2 will be determined in part by the interview, so the relative quality of their sets doesn't really factor into that aspect.



This is just my prediction. I am obviously not psychic. I think you misunderstand my problem with Shawn's theme.
I call Ethan as the winner of GDS2.

My guess is that Shawn's "blight" theme is going to expire soon. It can be properly-executed (as it is), but it just can't go far beyond that. It's a simple linear mechanic that just blows stuff up all the time.



That's ridiculous. First off, MaRo said himself that "The winner of the GDS2 will be the best designer, not the best design." Even if Ethan's world concept is more likely to actually see print than Shawn's, that is not what will determine who wins the competition. Furthermore, the winner of the GDS2 will be determined in part by the interview, so the relative quality of their sets doesn't really factor into that aspect.



This is just my prediction. I am obviously not psychic. I think you misunderstand my problem with Shawn's theme.



You said that there was a limit to how good Shawn's blight mechanic is. I said that it doesn't really matter at this point, because MaRo really likes the mechanic, so even if there are fundamental limitations to it the fact that MaRo likes the core of it and that Shawn has done so well up until now means that he is basically a lock for the final three. My point was less about your specific problem with Shawn's theme and more that using ANY specific aspect of Shawn's theme to predict the winner of the GDS2 is pointless.
Kind of interesting to read that Ken expected Chandra to be Magic's first colourless Planeswalker:

"I expected Chandra here as the first colorless planeswalker—she has a colorless story arc with the Purifying Fire and the Eye of Ugin"

This makes it strange that the latest iteration of Chandra, Chandra Ablaze, is actually one of the most colour-intensive of all the Planeswalkers printed so far - two of her three abilities require you to be playing with a decent concentration of Red cards, her first ability really demands a LOT of Red cards to be truly useful (Nissa and Koth are pretty close behind though). Seems to be a disconnect between creative and design there.

Also, goblinrecruiter makes an excellent point. The least these applicants deserve is to have their designs assessed based on a correct understanding of the rules. I suspect the official retort would be something like "ah, well if even a designer gets confused about how the card works that's a sure sign it's too complicated!" but I think that's a cop-out. Please really think about how the rules actually work before assessing and commenting on (or for that matter, designing) cards, eh Wizards?

[Edit: MaRo's comment on the same card shows that he has also made the same mistake. A pity. And the comment above his brings out that hoary old business of "players don't like killing their own stuff" - PLEASE reconsider this position. I am sure you have data that says "new players don't like cards with drawbacks", but that is EXACTLY what is great about them (and I'm not just bashing noobs here, please read on). If you go back to those same new players six months later they will have developed and worked out why the cards with drawbacks were actually better than the cards without drawbacks that they had been playing with. For me it was painlands, the day I understood that damaging yourself occasionally was far less significant than having smooth mana was the day I truly fell in love with Magic and its sophistication. And I don't believe the counter-argument that those new players won't still be around in six months to make that discovery if we put them off with drawback cards - because the no-drawback cards will still be there for them to use as well.]



There will always be more aspects of the complexity of Magic to discover. It's not as though, by dialing down on the number of drawback cards in Magic, R&D has completely eliminated the role of skill and the ability for people's knowledge about the game to allow them to play better. That's why painlands, etc. aren't necessary - yes, there are some players that enjoy that process of realization, but the whole of the complexity of Magic is for them. For the players who just want to have fun, drawback mechanics often just get in the way.
That's why painlands, etc. aren't necessary - yes, there are some players that enjoy that process of realization, but the whole of the complexity of Magic is for them. For the players who just want to have fun, drawback mechanics often just get in the way.

Hmm... so given that you accept this as a valid reason not to print drawbacks, do you also feel WotC should abandon its longstanding habit of printing cards which appeal only to certain psychographics?

WotC are very good at talking about why they do things, but sometimes you have to read between the lines a bit too. Magic is clearly diminished as a game by the absence of drawback mechanics, but Magic sales are not. (That isn't meant as a criticism of WotC - they're a business - but it's worth mentioning because WotC are uncomfortable about spelling out when they make the game worse on purpose.)

An an aside: I'd recommend anyone interested in this issue read Gavin Verhey on drawbacks.
You make fair points, we will simply have to politely disagree (something I still hope is possible on the internet).

Dungeons and Dragons has gone the same way; penalites for various things have been more or less done away with, it's now more a case of bigger bonuses for others. I can't help feeling that for Magic, though, if you remove or cut down on cards with drawbacks, you are necessarliy reducing design space. Cards with all upside are great, sure, but it seems logically irrefutable that also printing cards that have "drawbacks" offers more options.

Funnily enough. my own anecdotal, small-sample-size, in-no-way-scientific experience was that Bloodthrone Vampire was one of the most popular cards amongst younger/newer players in M11 limited (but not Rise, interestingly...). That's a card that has an obvious drawback (it's clearly underpowered unless you are killing your own creatures) but they seemed to thrive on it.
"Personally, I believe $50 is the roof that someone will pay for a Standard card, Mythic or otherwise." - Ben Bleiweiss, StarCity Games ----------------------------------------------------------


KEN: [...] Many players do not understand that tokens do actually go to the graveyard momentarily. Look at Pawn of Ulamog and Firecat Blitz—we write nontoken and exile clauses on them to avoid the confusion.



What happened to the Fun Police?

Also I'm pretty sure Pawn only has nontoken to prevent loops.
You know, I actually thought that the last design challenge would be, "Ok, now design the rest of your set."

The task of designing an Intro Pack is better for everyone's sanity, I guess.

I just think that for some contestants, it might be very hard to show what they've fixed with their world since Intro Packs only explore one mechanic. 
Goblin Artisans - A Magic Design Blog by GDS2 Contestants and Collaborators



KEN: [...] Many players do not understand that tokens do actually go to the graveyard momentarily. Look at Pawn of Ulamog and Firecat Blitz—we write nontoken and exile clauses on them to avoid the confusion.



What happened to the Fun Police?

Also I'm pretty sure Pawn only has nontoken to prevent loops.



Yeah, that point is a very strange one. I mean, there are lots of cards in standard that care about creatures hitting the graveyard that don't have the non-token clause. If Ken's claim were true then Sylvok Lifestaff would have the non-token clause, especially as Scars is a set with quite a few ways to make token creatures! Someone could be playing a (admittedly terrible) Scars limited deck with Kuldotha Rebirth and Vigil for the Lost - are Wizards not concerned about the so-called "confusion" there?

A quick gatherer search showed about 10 cards in standard that could trigger off random token creatures going to the 'yard and only about 2 that had the non-token clause, so it's clearly the exception rather than the rule.

[EDIT: To be fair to Ken, I do now recognize that Pawn of Ulamog might be slightly different because it does both the token-sacrificing and graveyard-triggering things on the same card but I believe the above poster is right that it's more there to prevent a loop.]

Something else that occurred to me while I was looking through Gatherer - if Wizards are indeed concerned about that sort of confusion, I'm surprised that they aren't as concerned about Leyline of the Void, Bloodchief Ascension and Ravenous Trap. These all trigger off "cards" going to the graveyard. Now tokens, of course, aren't cards.... except that they are? I mean, since the advent of putting them in booster packs (an idea I totally support), tokens are quite literally cards, in the actual English sense of the word. Except they are not cards.

The real confusion I can imagine is having to say to a new player trying to cast Ravenous Trap "No, you can't do that. That creature that went to my graveyard wasn't a card. I mean, I know it was actually a card, that I got out of a booster pack but technically it's not a card, so it doesn't trigger. What's that? Yes, I know it triggered my Quest for the Gravelord, but it doesn't help your Ravenous Trap because it was a creature being put in a graveyard, but it wasn't a card. Even though it was actually, literally, a card."
"Personally, I believe $50 is the roof that someone will pay for a Standard card, Mythic or otherwise." - Ben Bleiweiss, StarCity Games ----------------------------------------------------------
Maybe in some future year WotC should try releasing an extra set that kills a few of their sacred cows regarding complexity (everything except lines of text, about which I think they have the right idea)?



They did that already. It was called Future Sight. I loved it to bits but apparently the overall reception (as measured by their actual data-gathering) was not superb.
They did that already. It was called Future Sight.


Future Sight didn't do what I was proposing, no.

It has a lot of different mechanics in one set, but not in a way that leads to a greater frequency of relevant gameplay decisions. Nor is any one mechanic particularly deep or interesting.

In any case reception of Future Sight was inevitably going to be coloured by feelings about Time Spiral block in general. Speaking as someone who hated Suspend and found Storm too random, I was never going to draft much Future Sight even if it has been a better set.

I'm hoping to see a Blight deck - yes, in some ways it's the riskier choice - Assault is easier to build a fun deck around, and it's not the heart of the set, so even a slightly lack-lustre Assault deck doesn't invalidate Wodotha the same way an unfun Blight deck would.

On the other hand, the fact that an unfun Blight deck would sink Wodotha-as-we-know-it is the reason why, in my opinion, it would be a mistake not to build the Blight deck - the challenge isn't about building the best theme deck possible, but about building the theme deck that best sells the set design as a whole. Even if the judges were unanimous about Blight working perfectly as currently deployed, there'd still be a pull toward making the Blight theme deck for this round to showcase the heart of the design. With the judges expressing reservations about how Blight is currently being used, it's even more important to show that the core of the set is solid...
M:tG Rules Advisor
A Blight deck is probably the only realistic choice there, but yes, it's also insanely risky. 

My personal feeling is that they should have been asking them to design a pair of "duel decks" rather than an "intro pack".  Making one deck that plays interestingly against itself is a tall order at the best of times; building properly different but interesting strategies into a single deck is even harder.  Having a chance to explore a couple of avenues through two decks is more likely to show up issues with mechanics as well as make the fun experience more viable - I am fairly sure that most people don't buy two copies of the same intro deck to play against each other (even though I accept that the individual decks do have to function like that, I can't believe it's the top design priority...)
Don't include more than one new mechanic in your deck.



What does this mean exactly? One mechanic new to magic or new to the contest?

If a designer uses a repeat mechanic (persist, scry), can he uses both it and a new mechanic?

A Blight deck is probably the only realistic choice there, but yes, it's also insanely risky. 

My personal feeling is that they should have been asking them to design a pair of "duel decks" rather than an "intro pack".  Making one deck that plays interestingly against itself is a tall order at the best of times; building properly different but interesting strategies into a single deck is even harder.  Having a chance to explore a couple of avenues through two decks is more likely to show up issues with mechanics as well as make the fun experience more viable - I am fairly sure that most people don't buy two copies of the same intro deck to play against each other (even though I accept that the individual decks do have to function like that, I can't believe it's the top design priority...)



I guess they're going to be played against each other, just like challenge 1 & 2 =)

Evolve deck versus Blight deck for example.

10) Premium Mythic Card – Malaziel Sellscale
4BB
Legendary Creature - Dragon Mercenary
5/5
Flying
Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a player, you may pay X life. If you do, search your library for any number of Mercenary creature cards with total converted mana cost X or less and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.


Art: A huge black dragon flying at the head of a mercenary army.



Mmmmh...



10) Premium Mythic Card – Malaziel Sellscale
4BB
Legendary Creature - Dragon Mercenary
5/5
Flying
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, you may pay X life. If you do, search your library for any number of Mercenary creature cards with total converted mana cost X and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.


Art: A huge black dragon flying at the head of a mercenary army.


Rules Advisor

The Basic rulebook, read it! A lot of basic questions are answered there!

How to autocard :
Type [c]Black Lotus[/c] to get Black Lotus.
Type [c=Black Lotus]The Overpowered One[/c] to get The Overpowered One.

I think either Shawn or Ethan will win, but i won't count anyone out.

Blight does show off one of Shawn's weak points. I don't think Shawn wanted to do the Blight, nor did he really embrace it. He's had over a month to work on it, yet it turned up just the same as when he first submmited it (Even though Maro told him to work on it)

I'd like to see a blight deck, but i don't think it could work (Since i don't think the mechanic really works). So i expect an Assault deck.

Shawn and Ethan have been frontrunners the entire time, so i don't think they have to worry about being eliminated unless they screw up royally.
… and then, the squirrels came.

I don't quite understand Ken Nagle.  He chewed out Ethan for "being too ambitious" when the parameters of this test was to include art descriptions with each card.


 


I do think its important to remind the contestants that such elaborate card frames  (like the poison dart frog) may not be profitable, but at the same time this isn't what was asked of them.  The contestants are being asked in this stage to appeal to the players, not to Wizards.


I don't quite understand Ken Nagle.  He chewed out Ethan for "being too ambitious" when the parameters of this test was to include art descriptions with each card.


 


I do think its important to remind the contestants that such elaborate card frames  (like the poison dart frog) may not be profitable, but at the same time this isn't what was asked of them.  The contestants are being asked in this stage to appeal to the players, not to Wizards.





Ethan used scientific names for no apparant reason. which is more evocative:

Two friendly groups of Australopithecuses, clutching primitive weapons, meet in the savanna.

Two friendly groups of cavemen, clutching primitive weapons, meet in the savanna.

^ He was being a bit too scientific. Of course this is a nitpick, and i don't think really impacted his grade.

* Ken was mostly pointing out that scientific names aren't trademarkable. You can trademark "Phyrexia" but not "Parasite", you can trademark "Naya" but not "Jungle world". I think Ken wanted Ethan to have named things, not just read through a scientific journal.

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

On a differnt note, Shawn has decided to go with Blight for his mechanic, which is pretty cool. I'll certainly be offering suggestions for that.
… and then, the squirrels came.
I don't know why the judges liked Fleischer's Feathered Theropod // Toothed Bird.
This would have been much more simple and elegant:

Feathered Theropod
1UU
Creature - Lizard Bird
2/3
When a creature with flying enters the battlefield, Feathered Theropod becomes 4/3 and gains flying.

You can even add a clause so it doesn't trigger each time a flier enters the battlefield and a reminder text for "this effect doesn't end at the end of turn", and that would still be simpler than the flip card. Also, I probably would add an "under your control" clause.



Forgive me I should have used more specific examples.

I'm refering to his criticisms of Ethan's Uncommon #3 where Ken suggests Ethan is a controlling prick over a little art trick that he wouldn't have any say in to begin with.


KEN: Wow. This illustration has to show both a nonflying creature, then upside down it shows a flying creature? A sometimes-flying creature is always irksome to Creative. This level of semi-flying sounds like a very hard creative pill to swallow. I wonder if this designer plans to illustrate them himself (a possibility—even Mark Rosewater is a published Magic artist), doing art director Jeremy Jarvis's job for him. Perhaps this designer can also book all the flights for our Pro Tour competitors and script our Magic Online data logs in order to execute this set exactly the way he wants?

And



KEN: In conclusion, I find this to be a strong set with a strong designer. I'm most concerned with its ambition. There are many people doing many things to make a Magic set happen, and I think this designer is doing too many things that will invoke the ire of co-workers. I'm sure Jeremy Jarvis would love to direct the best 229 pieces of Magic art ever, then force designers to design cards for those art pieces. But we should all do our jobs, not each other's jobs.


Ethan gives no indication that he wants to do the artwork for MTG short of describing what his cards would look like.  Which is exactally what he was asked to do.

I agree that the scientific terminology is too much.  I wouldn't argue against that.

I just wanted to vent about how Ken Nagle is an arrogant dick.  Because the internet cares.
(He is a skilled MTG designer, no doubt, I just don't like his personality.)



I just wanted to vent about how Ken Nagle is an arrogant dick.  Because the internet cares.


(He is a skilled MTG designer, no doubt, I just don't like his personality.)




That's just the burning passion of the young. He'll calm down in a few years. 
We did this exact challenge over in YMtC.  The funny thing was that the original version of the challenge was much more insane.
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
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On a differnt note, Shawn has decided to go with Blight for his mechanic, which is pretty cool. I'll certainly be offering suggestions for that.

Thanks, Skibo. While an assault deck would let me play with some of my favorite themes (*cough* tokens) and might be easier in certain regards, I'd be remiss to sidestep the opportunity to address the judges' concerns about blight.

We discussed and playtested a few variants last round (making the destruction only hit one player, adding a clause to correct some of the consistency problems Tabak pointed out), but in the end, I decided not to clutter the cards with text that might be responding to problems the judges wouldn't have. Now we have something of a mandate, though- to explore possibilities for less parasitic blight. The initial question is whether we need a mechanical shift (maybe decoupling the counter placement & the destruction) or whether the answer is in the execution of individual cards.

Wodotha's wiki page is here if anyone wants to help out.
I just wanted to vent about how Ken Nagle is an arrogant dick.  Because the internet cares.


(He is a skilled MTG designer, no doubt, I just don't like his personality.)




That's just the burning passion of the young. He'll calm down in a few years. 



Not that anyone cares, and hopefully his personality IRL is better, but I agree with the comments about Nagle.  Actually I have quit reading them because most of the time I just want to slap him.  Seriously, it has colored my view of the man.  Very arrogant sounding, as I recall... he didn't actually win the last GDS.

Is he being serious? I'd assumed he was imitating the style of TV shows like Dragon's Den and The Apprentice due to the whole reality show theme.