Lilith is possibly the most important character of the entire Bloodlines series. She is based on the same Lilith as Judeo-Christian mythos, only I've filled in the missing details. In the beginning, the God spawned from the universe created the original human Deities. Both the male and female form were genetically engineered by this entity. That's the secret behind being born from the earth. It literally means, "To be born through genetic engineering, from the periodic elements and genetic materials found within the earth." Lilith was once a Deity (the pinnacle of evolution under the cosmic born one), but she would in time lose her evolutionary status after the birth of Eve (who is born from Adam's rib). We aren't talking about taking out a human rib, throwing a handkerchief over it, and *taa-daa* Eve was born. Being created from the rib literally means that Eve was created from Adam's genetic materials. Genetic materials from a sample taken from Adam's rib.
Each of the original humans were unique. Lilith was the first human to host the Oriental form. The facial characteristic and defining attributes of the Oriental person. Lilith was the first "Asian" person. Lilith was created to be special and unique in every way; perfectly beautiful and equal in every way to Gaea. And she was. Adam and Lilith were created for each other and bound in matrimony, until the arrival of Eve. Adam loses his attraction and abandons Lilith for Eve, choosing Eve over the one created specially for him. As human nature naturally unravels, Lilith's heart was a tempest of painful emotions. Broken-hearted, the pain drove Lilith to a schism. The bitterness made her malicious. In this schism, she veered from Beneficent to Malign in alignment. At first she wanted revenge, so she tempted Adam to embrace her again, and Adam succumbed to her (going back on his commitment to Eve). Yet, this wasn't enough for Lilith, she was still broken-hearted. She wanted to destroy Eve, who she judged to be unworthy. In her attempt to do so, she was overcome and debilitated. Lilith was devolved from the evolutionary state of a Deity, of which she then fled the plane in heartache and defeat.
Lilith became a Devil, the ultimate type of evil entity. The heartache and pain turned Lilith into a cold and unforgiving person. Lilith became aggressive and scornful. Wrath and hatred her embrace for all who dare face her presence. Still as powerful as a Goddess, Lilith would destroy everything and anything on a mere whim; fueled by hate, pain, and heartache; so cold-hearted. Even so, Lilith is still a female. She still desires the fulfillment of a woman's needs. The embrace of a man's love, the touch of romance, and the rush of more sultry things. Inevitably leading her to become a Succubus in addition to being a Devil. At her whim, in the most malicious manner, Lilith gets her fill, then destroys the would-be lover; or leaves him behind to revel in his heartache (explaining the nature of her red-black alignment).
Lilith was once a Deity, and although she's been devolved, she still wields the power of the Gods. Both creation and reanimation. To create though a mastery of science, and the ability to resurrect anything, breaking the hold of time's clutches. Given her nature, she always does so with the most grim of intentions. She can match any mage spell for spell. Anything you can do, she can do times two; and send it blazing, propelled by the darkest of emotions. Her focus is to play on people's emotions. Betrayal and heartache are things she knows all too well, and it has become one of her greatest weapons. To face the sting of one you once loved. To feel the burning of your heart, broken and bleeding. Lilith reanimates fallen kindred, with only her victims to remember the bond they once shared. Propelled by Lilith's dark emotions, the reanimated kindred know of nothing but service to her, and death to all else.
Almost everything has become worthless to Lilith. For someone who has lost the only love she has ever known, nothing will ever mean as much to her for as long as she lives. Lilith has mastered the broken heart, and this includes breaking the hearts of others. The saying goes, "It's better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.", but only a fool would believe such a thing without questioning it. Lilith has learned the hard way, she knows by experience; "To be alone is to die each day, but to lose the one you love is to die the ultimate death." Her strategy focuses on taking away the most precious person in a one's life. Sacrifice. To feel the burning of your heart, broken and bleeding. Lilith suffers no loss from this, because almost nothing means anything to her anymore. For Lilith, a sacrifice is a small price to pay for victory.
Being a Deity doesn't always have permanent, longstanding effects. You may lose some of your power or some of your memory; leading to a devolved sense of understanding, or devolved sense of wisdom. In Lilith's case, she retained almost everything. Lilith still possess the mental aptitude of a Deity. She can process thought with the speed and efficiency of a God. As the lightning cracks the earth in a blinding moment, Lilith can bring her will from thought into reality. Due to this hyper sense of mental power, she is very psychologically dominate. At her malicious whim (or just for fun) Lilith can trap even the mighty in a battle of wits, taking their most prized piece like a game of Chess.
In the beginning, the entire cycle of ten dual-color planeswalkers were set to have a converted mana cost of five. I wanted to hike up the cost to give me some room in terms of power (because I was looking to make each planeswalker a powerful centerpiece). I've already explained the flavor of Lilith's abilities in detail, but a large factor of her power was the card's initial casting cost being in the mid-high range. I later decided, that given these were multicolor walkers, I had configured the cost to timidly, and I reduced the cycle by . What normally appeared balanced to me, was now something extraordinary for the cost. Transcending from mighty planeswalkers into superior ones.
A simple ability like "Each player sacrifices a creature." is touchy for a design that has every right to be totally offensive. Drawbacks on planeswalkers are best utilized as flavor accents, or artistic braces that compliment a planeswalker's more powerful abilities (and her LEA is the Main Event). I wanted something special, something powerful, something that really stood out as unique. Being that destruction is the main medium of Red/Black, anything that compliments destruction is instantly golden. What better than an ability to tap into destroyed resources? Nothing is better. Keeping it fair, you still have pay the costs, which adds some flavor to the whole process. To reanimate takes time and effort, mana and skill. Just getting any permanent instantly for free is cliché, but being able to tap into it by using your own resources is an artistic and flavorful operation.
Originally, the ultimate ability was meant to draw people away from the others. The promise of power at a heavy cost. Who wouldn't drain Lilith for her ultimate until she was gone (or too vulnerable)? Anyone who doesn't have the upper-hand. That's the natural effect of desperation. And when a person is losing, it brings out the desperation in that person. It was powerful and tempting, but something I never liked about the ability was, how it was so far away from the rest of the design. It was something totally different, unrelated (and not in an artistic way at all). I've always sought something more synergistic, and I found it during this distilling process.
Just as her second ability covers the battlefield, her ultimate now covers the area that was once missing (a player's hand). Maximizing potential, I opened up the ability to multiplayer, allowing multiple player's to be targeted in a single instance. A beautiful finisher, and as the finishing touch, I changed her name by taking away the cliché title of "Empress of Evil" (a name that I was never all that fond of) and updated the title to "the Bloodline of Evil". This new title denotes Lilith's ties to the beginning of time, and how she was among the first of Deities to schism from beneficent into a state of being and mind that has become known as malign.
Shihong was once a Ninja of noble elite status. Under the command of the Dynasty's top division, Shihong trained alongside the Dynasty's very best (a master of many arts). Shihong always honored power. In power, all things are made possible. Defeat is at hand for those who cannot rise above weakness. Shihong, whose name literally means, "the world is red", viewed the world in a red haze. He saw at an early age that there was power in every art. He naturally realized that he who has mastered the most talents reign's supreme. It was from this enlightenment that he dedicated himself to master as many talents as he could, in search of power; not to protect others, but to save himself from defeat, and triumph over weakness.
Shihong began his training as a young man of 13 years old. In a fateful encounter, he was taken up as an apprentice by a wandering sage named Jiluwanwei (a mysterious Wizard from another realm). Shihong made the perfect apprentice. He was very disciplined and took everything very seriously. He mastered many types of Magic by the age of 16, but there was one thing that could not be taught, for it comes from within oneself. Jiluwanmei glimpsed the boy's soul and saw the chaos within him. He instantly foresaw a serious problem would arise if he attempted tamper with Shihong's inner-self (who was full of many powerful emotions, the source of his drive). Being a wise sage, he knows that a person's freewill is nothing to take lightly. Things must come naturally or else there will be chaos. To avoid the inevitable tragedy, Jiluwanmei abandons the young man one day before dawn, leaving him nothing but scroll with a single saying written on it: "Relinquish yourself to righteousness; fate inevitably becomes destiny, the culmination of your choices." Words so strong, they overshadowed the disappointment of being abandoned.
Impressed by the boy's talent, the Dynasty sought to make him well-rounded. After seeing his adept Magic skills, they naturally saw the potential in this boy, and wished to make him invincible. For the Dynasty was governed by kind and wise men who understand unity is a key to success. In unity, each person's strength lies in the power of all others. Naturally, the more powerful your allies, the greater your prosperity. To strengthen his body and sharpen his skills, Shihong was trained by a very adept ninja alongside this ninja's little brother, Shen-Xun. Shihong rivaled with his brother, but greatly admired his sensei, as he naturally saw in Kaitaisho everything he wished to become, a true master of many things.
The three were very close, but one day, just as the old sage had done to him, Shihong would abandon the Dynasty while possessing one of the highest ranks among Ops. Shihong was following his heart, which had been stolen by a Kunoichi he encountered that appeared, whom appeared to be from the Kakureta clan (a clan of ninja that defected from the Dynasty and built their own secret empire). Under the glow of a full moon, he rips the woman's mask off to reveal a beautiful face. Upon seeing it, his heart was smitten. He removes his own mask, in respect to the woman (having ripped off her's and leaving her reveled). Next, she simply says to him, "If you are from heaven to send me home, I know beautiful things await me there." That night, it was her that took him away, but not to heaven.
At her whim, in the most malicious manner, Lilith gets her fill and then normally destroys the would-be lover. Yet a twist of fate was at hand for the fallen Goddess; for in this moment of lust, Lilith tasted the power of Shihong's inner-self. The heat of raw contact was such pleasure, but the chaos of his inner-self raged like an inferno. Such powerful emotions, Lilith could feel the raw power of his soul, his burning passion. It was the same chaos within herself, the same fire. Lilith for first time in ages, felt the embrace of true love, the bond between lovers. As he pressed his body against hers, the pressure against her chest made her heart pulse. Lilith wildly reached her hands around Shihong, and dug her nails deep into his back. Pressing forward, she bites her lip, and then bites Shihong between his neck and shoulders, mixing her blood with his own. Her blood takes hold of him quickly. As he spasms, Lilith wraps her legs around his body, absorbing the sensations of his pain, causing her body to spasm in pleasure.
In the climax of the night, Shihong was transformed. By her blood, Lilith had made a demon out of the once adept ninja. His purpose, to be her pet. For Shihong's inner-self, the force of chaos, the rush of raw emotions was a sustenance to her that she could not due without, now that she had tasted it. As a demon, Shihong's inner-self was released, and it eclipsed the once strong and silent type. His wrath falls quickly on his victims, like the darkness of night in the wake of autumn. By her blood, the power of Shihong's body was doubled. His body now twice as durable, his muscles twice as powerful, and his movements executed in light-speed. In this chi release, the awakening of his inner-self unchained, his magic was now twice as potent. He could now channel masses of chi and mana once far beyond his control.
Ultimately, beyond all else, Shihong inherited a new power, the likes of which he had never known before; the power of love. Now bound to Lilith, Shihong realizes the true power of love. The bound between lovers that amplifies the force of all emotions. His determination was now reinforced. Lilith's power had transformed him into a monster, and in exchange, he would fight for her; by her side, or as her envoy. She had made him what he now was, and in respect, he would defend her with his life. Once a man who revered his Sensei's beyond everyone except himself, nothing else mattered now. There was only the source his power, the Major Arcana, the force of the lovers. Shihong was prepared to battle anyone to the death; propelled by the darkest emotions, that stir within his new master's soul.
In the second development process, I skillfully divided the dual-color sections with reserved places for specific content. This design is apart of a cycle that bridges on the blueprints I designed for multicolor content in Bloodlines. In each multicolor section, there was to be two legendary creatures (one at mythic and one at golden rare). For the golden rares, I developed a cycle based on the criteria of being simple, yet amazing. I divided the range between the golden rares and the mythics far apart. The golden rares would have a low converted mana cost, and the mythic rares would be in the mid-high range; like two bracers that supply a specific amount of support in two crucial areas (beginning and late game).
Militance isn't a very unique keyword, but it has amazing applications. I've always artistically applied it, and I always give each color an equal portion as a measure of balance. Militance is a simple, yet powerful ability. Naturally, legendary creatures are spotlight cards. I want people who play Bloodlines to get a feel for the simple things. I want them to gain an appreciation for the simple things, to see the power in them. That's why I put the keyword in the spotlight. A cycle of five, dual-color tribal, legendary creatures, each a solid three hybrid mana, and each with only two abilities,(one of them Militance). What might have normally turned out boring, ended up a masterpiece cycle (since each of them possesses an immense amount of flavor and realism).
An amazing artist, and a vivid painting is what forced my hand in terms of the second ability. The artwork depicts a powerful ninja, surrounded by flames, fully tensed and channeling all his might into a powerful spell. The highlights of calligraphy around the ninja are an amazing accent. I've always loved this effect, the style of traditional Oriental magic; it's so unique, so vivid. It appears as though the ninja is about to unleash an ultimate release, a finisher. Traditionally, this kind of release is a suicide move (like Danzo uses in the Naruto Series) and it instantly clicked in my head that a really high range Ki Mastery would be an amazing application here, fully supported by the flavor that the artwork suggests.
Still, I couldn't just break it (and I wasn't going to). I was going to keep the value within reason. Afterall, Ki Mastery is a very versatile ability that allows you to cast an instant or sorcery of any color. This fact alone transcends the potential beyond the likes of simple mana ramps (the closest contemporary to this operation). Even though the ability is self-restricting (limited to instants or sorceries), spanning the horizon of colors is serious business. I solemnly decided that five was highest possible value for a unique sense of power. The spells available at six mana in Bloodlines are pretty powerful. Things would have gotten nasty if I had opened this up to those spells. At five, there is still a great measure of amazing combo matera available, and given the fact that Shihong is the front-line aggressor of the cycle (all power, least toughness), he's an unreal combat force. This alongside Militance and Ki Mastery 5 makes him undeniably worthy of the title legendary.
No one rules alone. There is no ruler that doesn't command an army. Only the wanderer. The humble, solemn, master of oneself. But these are the rarest traits to be found in a demon, and even less so in a devil. No matter the nature of the beast, each must choose their militia wisely. This decision is the thin line between life and death. Walk it cautiously. The perfect militia fights together to the bitter end. Choose unwisely and your majesty may be overtaken by your own army. Brutal force is the reason Lilith commands a majority of Demons. Yet by nature, demons are chaotic and heartless. If they obey, it's because there is something greater in it for themselves. If they can reap all the spoils, they'd kill their master for it. It's for this reason that demons make miserable minions. One can't be trusted as a close ally, and so before the fateful encounter with Mara (which lead their alliance), Lilith sought to engineer for herself the ultimate right hand. An army of one, and the ultimate minion, both deadly and loyal.
Animals are natural predators. All they know is the hunt being natural born killers. Their downfall is that animals are primitive. There is no complexity to their attack. Assault and retreat are the only strategies they know of. They'll charge head-on into the fray without any forethought, only escaping if the opportunity presents itself. Even so, their primitive nature has a great upside to it. Animals can be unyielding loyal, whereas humans and their unstable desires leads them abandon one another on a whim. Greed, or danger, or confusion; it could be anything, any emotion can be the spark that blazes to a bitter betrayal.
Above all other elements, loyalty is the most important attribute of a minion; so Lilith would begin her quest in search of the most loyal creature. In her observation of the animals, it was the dog that rises to the top in the aspect of loyalty. No one knows why either. People just chalk it up to concern. All in faith, they say the dog cares for its master, and this concern is the source of its unyielding loyalty. Yet a purpose is irrelevant. At this point, who really needs an explanation for something of such solidarity? All that matters is that they ARE loyal. When there is work to be done, who wastes their time soul searching? Only a fool. Lilith wasted no time in her pursuit.
It all started with a puppy, stolen from a litter of wild Akuinu (a breed of very large and dangerous dogs). Their name literally means "evil dog", and it's symbolic with a depth of meaning that only the experienced could understand. They make their homes in the most treacherous environments, from mountain valleys to ruthless jungles. Wherever only the strong survive, wherever the vicious thrive, the Akuinu can be found, at the top of the food chain. Lilith takes the puppy and raises it as her own. It matures to recognize the fallen Goddess as its mother. She spoils the monster in the most grim fashion. As treats, she feeds the dog human flesh, usually the victims of her own sultry indulgence. It isn't long before the monster acquires a special taste for it. By nature this would have happened anyways (the Akuinu are notorious for attacking and eating humans), but being fed as treats leads the dog to relate human flesh with accomplishment. It rips through people with an obsession, the ultimate form of satisfaction. On the hunting grounds, the Akuinu is a massive, uncontrollable killing machine. Yet in her presence, the beast is unmindful to move, waiting eternally on the command of its mother and master.
Finding the final piece to her puzzle proved to be a miserable quest. Lilith scoured the realms, most of which untouched by evil; full of pure and virtuous souls. Many intelligent and powerful men, but they lacked the cruel edge to their intelligence that she was seeking. Finally, Lilith gave up her tireless search, and decided if she couldn't find it naturally, that she should fabricate a tainted conscious for herself. Her target was a man by the name of Sho, whose name literally means, "Victory, flying high, to soar." A name the man lived up to in every way. Sho was the top strategist and intellectual of his world. In addition to his supreme intelligence, Sho was a highly decorated athlete. A trainer of elitest men, taking them to the pinnacle of their physical potential.
Sho was a happily married man. One tragic night, he returns home to find his beloved wife was gone, with nothing left of her memory except a single scroll, which read: "You were strong and intelligent, but not enough to maintain my love for you. Farewell Sho." His eye's teared up, and he let out a mighty roar. Seizing the moment, the figure of a voluptuous woman appeared as a silhouette against the moon, shinning outside in the night. "I heard a scream and came running.", "Oh my! How could a handsome and powerful man like you be in any trouble?" Sho was starstruck. Lilith's commanding body made his heart pulse, and her words grabbed Sho by the neck. Lilith was playing on emotions, wielding a power she knows all too well; the pain of a love lost. Sho was helpless. By night's end, Sho succumbed to the fallen Goddess.
With both parts now in hand, Lilith wasted no time and began stitching them together. One of Sho's strongest physical attributes was his core, flexible and strong, like rubber and steel. Even so, his was body was nearly worthless. Akuinu was already the ultimate predator. Sho's body wasn't his primary resource anyways, it was his mind. Lilith begins by severing Sho in half. By nature, the dog has only one weak point, the neck and directly behind it. A dog can only turn its head so far, anything beyond this radius is vulnerable; and so Lilith stitches Sho onto Akuinu's powerful back. Sho's upper-body would serve to be the ultimate guardian over the Akuinu's only weakness.
Her work was not done just yet. In this state, they were still two separate beings. Just a single conflict between the two minds is all it would take to engage a fight to the death between them. To patch this, Lilith connects their central nervous system together, splicing their nerves, unifying their thoughts as one. In the process, she assigns Akuinu's primal mind as the master, and Sho's rational mind as the subsidiary. In this state, Akuinu's killer instinct would overmaster all other thoughts, yet pass through Sho's mind first (like a proxy). Sho's intelligence would be applied over the primal desire, sharpening the final action with surgical precision. All of the sweet, without any of sour. Lilith had succeeded in engineering the perfect minion, as brutally loyal as it was vicious and cunning. Now when it attacked, instead of charging relentlessly, the monster was tactical; brutalizing its prey with complex strategies. Yet in her presence, still unmindful to move, waiting eternally on the command of its mother and master.
The two shared a strong bond. The beast carrying out its master's vicious orders faithfully, and in return, spoiled by endless treats and the master's company. Suddenly there was a change in the atmosphere, like the meeting of a cold and warm air front, a violent storm was about to be born, between the beast Shoakuinu and Lilith's new pet, Shihong. His presence was anything but a welcomed one. The attention Shihong received overshadowed the attention once given to the monster. Although Sho's rational mind recognized Shihong as an ally and master, Akuinu's primal mind overpowered all reason. It saw the demon ninja as nothing more than a problem, and a challenger for the affection and attention of its mother and master.
The tension stirred silently within the monster, building up at an alarming rate. Shoakuinu was ready to erupt into a bloody rage, engaging a fight to the death between it and the demon ninja. The only thing keeping it at bay for now, was the command of its master. Shoakuinu must never attack Shihong. If he does, it will be the end of him. It was the sense of being dominated, the pain of a feint betrayal at the hands of its master; and it was driving the primitive beast to the brink of insanity. So overwhelming, Sho's rational mind was struggling to keep their collective actions focused. In its desperation, Shoakuinu unleashed itself unto the Orient. The wheel had come full circle, the beast was wild once again. An impending doom to all humans, unaware of the danger.
One of the central themes in Bloodlines is demons against humans, so first I checked the foundation I was working with: a legendary mythic rare; then as I looked over the development as a whole, I saw the extraordinary potential of an anti-human design. It would trump a huge majority of the content (since at least 7/10 color sections are based on humans), giving the small section of demon content a powerful weapon (and skillfully placed as a multicolor exclusive). Meaning, if you want to tap into its power, you're going to need to be playing the core-theme (multicolor); otherwise, you'll need to go out of your way to tap into it (via a mana fixer). Constraining the power to where it was intended to be (Red/Black Demons).
As for the abilities, even though the converted mana cost here was in the high-range, there was raw power just from being anti-human. I didn't need to go out of my way. I really didn't care to either. I was already focused on the flavor more than anything. The unstoppable killing machine that feasts on humans for pleasure, as well as nourishment. Protection from humans seemed like an strong compliment alongside the human eater ability (symbolic of the beast's brutal hunger). Then the story gave new meaning to protection (now symbolic of Sho's hyper-intelligent mind). Being a master of strategy and intelligence, he knows humans too well. Versed in their ways, he won't fall to their tactics (and few escape from his own).
Power and toughness leveled out quickly. Encouraging challenge was my main plan. A high power for ruthless assault potential, in combination with being super-evasive (due to protection from humans). And as the challenging factor, a below average toughness. Some fair measure in balance of all the assault power it commands. Without this artistic accent, it would just be another blatantly powerful design; boring, with no sense of balance. Some people don't mind this. They think the overall power of their designs is some accolade to themselves; but in reality, this is how you can tell the pros from the cons. A professional doesn't let something so trivial blind them to what's most important. And a con-artist is concerned about nothing more than power and fame. They're never put out a design that forces a challenge of any kind.
Red-Black was in fact the first section to get developed in the re-development process. I set this design down knowing it was to be the core-essential stuff. You might notice a lot of rather plain content among the two-color sections. This is me applying the empty space so that the finer details stand out. Simple designs ensure your special stuff remains special (acting like a contrast). You'll also notice a lot of cycles (I mean a lot). I developed the whole set in a series of cycles, which act like gears in the time machine. To show by example the importance of balance, and what amazing things come with it. And the depth of balance; to perfect your development, every type of design, every significant operation must have a check and balance to it. Don't give to one color what you provide equally to the rest, or without answer to.
The design began as a simple 1/1 for one. As I said, I was laying down the foundation for block play. It wouldn't have made much sense for them to be all blank-slates, so naturally, a single ability was allotted to each one. For this design, I choose haste because it matches the demon's nature best. Aggressive and relentless, demons are brutal killers. The theme for this color section wasn't even aggro, but this supplies diversity. When you just apply the same cliché abilities to any given theme over and over, is it really always fun? No! You've got to shake things up! You've got to apply a diversity of interactions. As long as the core of the theme is well developed, there is nothing to worry about. This diversity is what makes the core theme feel new and interesting.
I split the entire set down the middle. Each color and each dual color section between the core type and spirits. This split is to be fully symbolic of the Nayugu effect (the otherworld, the Spirit realm) that I've mentioned before. Given the abundant nature of specifics here (being a specific type of spirit), I rolled with the Shinto concept of the Kami for this cycle. Each would be a kami of a specific type: 1/1, one ability, for one hybrid mana. Given the opportunity here, I combined the types together (making a Demon Spirit). The Kami was based on Death's Shadow (long before Death's Shadow ). It's not symbolic of an entity on the other-side. It's symbolic of the force which creates death; the killing force, the bringer of death. Any violent, hateful, or negative entity can host this nature, so the kami is also symbolic of a main essence. Not only does it represent an evil spirit, a living entity, it's also symbolic of a type of nature (as in the spirit of murder). This is a broad concept, so for example, the warrior's spirit, or the fighting spirit is another example of this type of embodiment.
Again with the foundation, here was to be some very limited content. If you want to do it right, you've got to always provide limited stuff. Yet one thing I've tried to do, is learn from the mistakes of Wizards. Even if it's destined to always be outclassed, that doesn't mean you can't do your best to make it interesting in its own way. I've actually seen them do this from time to time (like with Swat ), but they let up on this too often. Those really bad limited designs stand out a lot more than I think they notice, and they're always hard on the eyes. I've done my best to make sure that my limited content is at least appealing, since it can never be top grade.
My first thoughts were very humble, I was shooting far below the curve (a sinker ball). Simply put, destroy a creature with a converted mana cost of one. At first it seems far too weak right? But in reality, it covers a seriously wide range of content. I estimate, that between the two sets, there are about thirty one-drop creatures. That's a lot! And in draft, that's the most common content you'll find. Limited yes, but I'd say that covers a lot of area for what's available in an already limited format. I was perfectly content on it like this, but then I saw some potential to make it more interesting, and I couldn't resist the temptation. Red-black has a lot of power reducing spells, so by adding the ability to destroy creatures with a power of 1, it was providing some beautiful synergy. This worked out as okay because I've recently had to nerf two destruction spells from the monoblack section. Given the sudden absence of destruction content, a small measure was taken here to make up for what I took away.
As always, I worked the flavor around the artwork that matched the operation here. Well, it didn't exactly match at first, but after I put a name to it, you couldn't unsee it. This is not just a death spell. It's working with two different colors that revolve around different concepts. You've got to find where the sand becomes the ocean (the blend between the two colors). Death by fire is that perfect blend here, and that's exactly what name Immolate literally means. It can also represent the act of sacrificing by fire, which even better relates to the red-black demon theme.
The realism of the ability is symbolic of an inescapable force of fire. The immense forces aren't effected by minut forces. A strong force may have the power to deflect it or escape harm. Yet a weak force (represented by a power of 1 or a converted mana cost 1), is not powerful enough to stave it (and it can't escape either), it's overwhelmed and destroyed. And if you look to your right, you'll see a cameo by Street Fighter boss character Gill. Just a fun fact I wanted to point out in addition to Gill being among a number of fun cameos (most are characters from games of Asian origin) throughout the project.
I didn't dodge blank-slates in some attempts to avoid them, in a fully developed project they're something you can't do without. It's just that they didn't belong in the one mana range. When you've got no abilities to work with, the only things left to apply diversity are casting cost and power/toughness. By tradition, it's customary to apply them in different casting cost ranges. In almost every set you'll see creatures with no abilities with a spectrum of costs. It's also tradition to use the text box to write out graphic depictions. It's a famous, and even legendary for creatures without abilities to be given extensive, vivid flavor text. However, I wished to focus on the other side of the design, the artwork. By using the full-art template, the artwork is fully displayed and each person's imagination is left to fantasize the details.
Implementing blank-slates is a harmless task as long as you make sure they're not too powerful or too tough. Oni Gundan-Sei is equal to Blade of the Sixth Pride , I wasn't crossing any boundaries in terms of power or toughness here. It's a very efficient ratio of power:cost. The reason I choose 3/1 is that red-black demons are all about power. Although their theme isn't aggro, they're all about aggression and assault force (the main mediums to a demon's power).
I was trying to capture of the flavor of a demon's strength and embody it. Channeling the flavor like this is all work you need to do when it comes to creatures without any abilities, the least I can do is not mess it up. Now obviously, an Oni is a horned demon, but more the more unconventional title draws from one of the first systems of Samurai. It's symbolic of these demons being a collective force which is intended to act as "imperial guards" over the "royal family" (Lilith, Mara, etc.); not that they need protection, they are immensely powerful, but to keep them from being annoyed by weak adversaries. If you notice, I didn't actually use the class-type Samurai either, and that's because I was sticking to specifics. Warrior is the core creature type for the mono-red section in the set, and that better suits the aspects of this type of lesser-demon. It also makes for an interesting blend into the monored Warrior theme. Among a number of blends I applied for the diversity of it.
This was the first born of the cycle it created. I think this is where I developed spellshape too. Well, not really developed it, but adapted it to spells (instants and sorceries). The cycle is based on aspects of human nature and human action. They're foreshadowing toward five legendary spirit creatures to come in the second set. These spirits manifest from the emotions and actions of Orient humans. The veil between Nayugu and the human realm weakens to a point where the human's thoughts start becoming reality. Normally, this takes evolution, (to ascend into the FormlessRealm, the power to interact on that higher level). Yet the weakened veil between the two realms causes the emotions and thoughts to manifest collectively.
Adapting spellshape here originally was intended to broaden the cycle's potential (to make use of dead draws and junk in hand). Afterall, I had decided to roll with a series of two ability creature buffs (or debuffs), based on color, for the entire cycle. So simple, yet sooo good. The option to cast them through hybrid mana (noncolorless) was open, but if you wanted to copy it via spellshape, a solid multicolor cost was enacted. An interesting application, but given the simple nature of the abilities, it was an unnecessary precaution that ended up limited them too much. I scrapped that when I reworked the spellshape ability removing the "spellshape cost" and allowing the card's casting cost to be paid instead. This was after I had opened up the hybrid potential though. For super proficiency in draft (and limited to a lesser extent), I exchanged the solid hybrid symbols with colorless hybrid mana. Now you can use no matter what color you're playing. Given they're simple abilities you could find on artifacts anyway, it's all in balance. This bridges greatly on the Shadowmoor cycle (ex. Tower Above ) which opened up this versatility for the first time.
Unfortunately, I was unable to develop each one around a predominate Asian concept. There really isn't anything exclusive about human nature though, it's universal. By predominate Asian concept, I mean concepts that are very popular in Asian history and culture. Things that are popular in TV and movies for example. For this design, the combination of red and black leads to a dark corner of human nature. Evil and brutality together are the deadliest combination. Cruelty of the mind is symbolic of malicious intention. The person knows what they are doing, even worse, they want to do it. They desire to kill (or they enjoy it). The cruelty of the heart is symbolic of intolerance (the absence of forgiveness). The point of no return. The emotions are out of control (the desire to kill is uncontrollable). Together, the result is a very violent, malicious emotion/action. It's commonly seen in many Asian movies, where the person is full of hate. The person desires to kill. You can see the evil in his eyes. You can feel the fire burning within him. The person is overwhelmed with cruelty; to never forgive, only to kill.
Once I got into the uncommon tier, it was time to start unleashing carnage. Uncommon is the rarity with greatest potential for staples. It's the mix between royals and commons that gives me the perfect amount of space to work with. I was coming out swinging, looking to lay down the demon staple for creatures right away. My initial idea was something combative. Something that really unleashed hell on the battlefield. Aggressive and hard to deal with, yet in someway vulnerable—alongside requiring a mid-range amount of resources for its abilities. Another lovely application that's very prominent among a number of multicolor content, the abilities would be color specific (to add functional appeal).
What I began with was a 2/2 for three. It had two mana regenerate covering black, and two mana +2/+0 fire-breathing for red. It was powerful and synergistic, but blatantly so. I needed to focus the abilities if I wanted to constrain proportions. I didn't like how out-of-control the fire-breathing got alongside regen. Even at two mana each, you'll only need to knock down so many creatures and regen yours before you've cleared the battlefield. That wasn't the effect I was looking for because I wanted power, but only alongside moderation. That's what makes a staple artistic (powerful, but in an interesting way, in a balanced measure). I focused the fire-breathing ability into a more limited single-instance "flowstone" ability (like Flowstone Charger ). This provides a vulnerability of low toughness in place of the power (w/ regen being the synergistic compliment). Taking the cost away on this ability actually gave the design a little more utility, but it also made the design more free flowing on the battlefield (which is really important for a good design). Since the power-boost was now fixed to +2 at max, the design had power in moderation (so simple, yet so good).
Evil often makes minions out of their adversaries. I was looking to play on this here in red-black demons. After all, the main character is the fallen goddess of heartbreak. It fits right in alongside her wielding the power of a love lost, the pain of betrayal by the hands of those you love. This would provide flavor to the demon theme, adding depth to their character. It makes for some odd bleed potential, but since that only creates more play options, it's not a big deal. Some of them are impossible bleeds being that they share no color (so there is some balance to it).
Being a samurai should appear obvious at this point. And it's symbolic of the legendary demon swordsman, the ultimate man-slayer. This is a very popular concept among Japanese pop-culture. There are tons of series which reference it, and its origins are rooted in historical mythology. The monster is a brutal killer who devours people like a wild animal. The demon is malicious, and very dangerous. It shows no mercy toward women or children and enjoys killing proud men most of all (like noble or very skilled swordsmen). Given the nature of this design's abilities, I feel I've done a great job bringing that brutality to life in this design.
For those who don't know, this monster is based on the Dungeons and Dragons character (the Beholder). Although the grim artwork I used doesn't perfectly match the traditional description, I really enjoy broadening character descriptions in artistic ways (always within reason, and based on creative, yet relative modifications). This idea actually was sparked when I glimpsed a recent depiction (the Flame Beholder), which was very similar to the artwork I choose to revolve around here. I sought to apply some diversity, and I wanted an exotic creature type. Seeing the beholder, it just struck me as the most amazing exotic monster ever to use. Since their natures match up based on alignment, a beholder would fit perfectly within reason as a demon. Even though the beholder is a very material entity, demon spirit was an adaptation I choose to correlate with the flavor of its unique ability (also bridging on the pop culture that many demons actually being spirits (popular among many Asian mythos).
The original tier I was working with was golden rare. I couldn't think of placing it lower at the time since exotic creatures like this naturally tend to be in the spotlight. Given the fan-base, there's going to be some high expectations anyways, and you've got to supply the power people expect. I began development based on the nature of the beast; the chaotic evil one, seeker and destroyer. It roams the planes like an engine of destruction, devouring all in its path. Since exotic creatures are already stand-alone characters, they make really great powerhouse cards. That's why an aggro, stand-alone design was the final order I put in here for production.
The foundation was a powerhouse aggro one-two combo, flying and haste. If any of you can remember Rorix Bladewing , it was a top-gear aggro creature that brought games to an end very quickly (proving the effectiveness of the combo). This design was going to be all assault power. Being a great design has a lot to do with sticking to your guns. Whatever you choose to do, focus on it and don't deviate. I choose attack power, so that's what I was focusing on. Due to evasiveness, I decided the challenge to the design would be a very low toughness in contrast.
A three one flying, haste for three solid mana is good, but waaay too boring. It needed a three-ring-circus ability if it was going to be fun (meaning, you've got to jump through rings of fire for it). Discarding a card at random is a dangerous drawback. Designs like Gamble and Lightning Axe prove that it tends to give or take a little more than it should, yet the reason I choose to roll with random discard was not to cut slack, but instead it was based on the flavor of a demon spirit; a dangerous entity which bites the hand that feeds, and can combine with another demon spirit (another beholder) to double its power (either willingly or by devouring it). This two becoming one bigger entity is a great application for spirits. It has lots of realism and it's easy to imagine.
In the director's cut, this guy went from golden rare to uncommon. It made me sad to have to make the cut, but I think it's an amazing uncommon. This action was made in order to balance the rarity levels out. It's also the reason it ended up with such a conservative powerlevel, but the important thing is that it's still powerful in an interesting way. Juxtaposed with Ball Lightning , it's half the power for the cost, but this guy is permanent and evasive! You can keep swinging for 3 (as long as nothing bars the way). As a balance measure, I reduced the power from 4/3 to 3/1. 7/4 flying for just three mana was beyond my own limits, there needs to be some challenge to it if anyone is every going to learn to have an appreciation for the simple things. It was a long hard road of compromise, yet in the end, what was most important was ultimately preserved (the factors of flavor and challenge, of which it wouldn't be interesting without).
When developing your Magic set, climbing up the converted mana cost ladder is going to be as hard as your rarity placement. Rares are like booster tiles from Mario Kart, they skyrocket you, bypassing the burden of those sometimes hard to handle limits that are mandatory for common content. You can always allot yourself some power-space by climbing costs (making your higher range content in the higher range converted mana costs), but be warned that this will have a direct impact on each player's ability of deck-building with your custom content.
Deck building is based on the "mana curve" and this law is directly impacted by your development. After all, that's where the content for the decks comes from! Don't let your content stray too far off balance into the higher converted mana costs, always keep those higher numbers as low as possible! With draft in mind, I make sure there is at least one high converted mana cost creature and noncreature card in each sector. I don't like to break past two designs per sector with a converted mana cost higher than 6. As you can see, the red-black sector was capped at five for hybrid content. Keeping that curve down ensures that people will be able to build proficient decks with your content. In summery, the key to an awesome game experience is strict and awesome development protocol.
I had a premeditated flavor idea for demons cached in my memory. A big demon that revolves around sacrifice and offerings. They're very co-essential concepts that have a ton of historical references backing them. There are many tales which tell of demons and offerings, and naturally this makes for a great opportunity to bridge on that flavor. I was thinking about using the old Kamigawa keyword in a one-shot here. I never got to experience Kamigawa because I left Magic for a time, yet this simple accent would hopefully provide some nostalgia for Kamigawa lovers. Given that both Bloodlines and Kamigawa are Asian-themed, this was the same application as the Fusion keyword intended for Biotech Ninja, "a single thread that connects one world to another."
Being a common creature, I based the flavor on the concept of a mini-boss. Well not exactly that powerful, but what I mean is, a big powerful guy who acts like a boss (with the tyrannical nature of a boss). He's not actually a well developed character, but he's got power and he knows how to use it; and that's the entire basis to the design. Offering is symbolic of him destroying another demon. Since demons are powerful creatures, it's a display of power and dominance; resulting in the effects of intimidation. As a five mana common creature, while sticking to the "simple, yet good" protocol, you're not just going to get something simple and good for free, you've got to work for it. This limitation keeps things within balance while enabling the possibility of some greater potential. Need I explain the blandness of a 4/3 for five mana; or the greatness of a 4 power evasive creature? Of course not! It's very obvious to be a well developed design whose greater potential comes at clever cost.
Breaking through into the solid multicolor content is like the hardest stage of hybrid development, in hyper mode! Where hybrid is very open and free-flowing, solid multicolor is very demanding and tight-fit. You've got to be twice as specific, twice as articulate. It's because color requirements are synonymous heart-breakers. Many people have fallen in battle because they didn't have (or couldn't get) the colors they needed. I've made it protocol for me to never get carried away with color requirements. It doesn't always add a special flare to the design (or make it unique) it usually will only cripple the design's potential in-game; so be cautious and be aware of the consequences.
There was nothing to worry about here though; for this was the entry level design in the red-black solid multicolor section, costing a single mana of each type. Given the nature of such an elegant cost, what better conditions could there be for a really good cycle? None! Because this mana cost is affordable. This is exactly where you want to provide a bracer (where it's of the most support). Since this was already going to be something useful, I was seeking to supercharge it by adding a legendary theme to the cycle: color-hate. Color-hate is traditionally a very beautiful, elegant type of design, but in a dual-color multicolor block it's all that and more! It expands from effecting one section (the specific color) to five sections (the monocolor section and each multicolor section paired with that specific color). All of the added benefits while maintaining the raw beauty that's exclusive to a color-limited design.
The next decision I made was a very clever one. Red-black has a destruction/aggro-ish theme. Normally, nothing encourages players from packing their decks with nothing but aggressive designs. Even if that's that theme, it's a blunt, thoughtless strategy. What I had planned was to control the player's choices, and provide content that encourages them to build more well-developed strategies. To do it, I'd make this design all defensive! The entire reason behind defender. Very clever of me, huh? And to make it really burn, I sharpened the defenders' edges crueler than a Wall of Razors (one of my favorite defenders of olde); and alongside Cinder Wall it was a contemporary I juxtaposed Wall of Malice with when measuring it out.
Oh, and the flavor! It's bridging on the veil between the two worlds once again. Demons are very violent, fierce monsters. They are filled with an IMMENSE amount of negativity. Hate, malicious intention, cruelty to the extreme fuels their every thought and every action. When this emanation of negative energy meets with the metaphysical properties of the FormlessRealm, it spawns a huge, inanimate entity of evil. Well, this one is inanimate anyways. It represents an underdeveloped manifestation, not yet fully mobile, yet still incredible deadly.
There could be no better enemy of black-red than white, and that's why Wall of Malice is focused as white-hate. So simple, yet so good. It can flat out destroy any white creature unfortunate enough to be enveloped by it. To represent its density and size, a 3/3 body w/ reach was assigned. It's powerful and it towers far into the sky, yet if the manifestation seeks to consume, the energy is burned up before it materializes (and the entity is sacrificed). As it stands, a 3/3 for two mana is pretty decent (even with defender). Having reach alone doubles its playability (by covering a weakness). And being able to flat out destroy any blocked white creature opens ground for some great combo matera. Can you see how these sharp edges perfectly compliment the drawback of defender? While defender itself still stands tall as a primary measure of balance, keeping each other element perfectly in check.
And it was here that I began the universal ki-spirits concept, which every multicolor sector has at least one of. I was making my approach very carefully. Each solid multicolor design has extreme significance just by being the primary content for this project. Now, sometimes people aren't aware of the importance, they'll just belt out multicolor designs like they're nothing, but this is reckless and it always results in a pile of useless junk alongside the few solid designs made in the process. You never want to end up like this. Keep your solid multicolor content concentrated and make sure each one has its own sense of significance. Don't get careless and just start throwing things together. Developing Magic is a craft, and like all crafts, quality control is important. Master it by putting in extra effort and time, being careful, and fine detailing.
Still working with common rarity calls for subtlety. Something useful, yet artfully limited. For the demons theme, destruction is the primary to aggro's secondary. I needed to save the true aggro content for red-green. I couldn't expand too far into its territory or I would ruin the individuality. Destruction itself is such a powerful function that it's really hard to work into a theme. Take advantage of all the resources you've got, because you're going to need them all in order to develop a power-sensitive theme. The area I focused on here was limited removal alongside combat tactics. In the beta design, I began with -1/-1 counters, yet in short time, they proved to trip the power alarms, leading to utilizing a single-instance operation instead.
Don't just throw counters around like they're no big deal, they have a huge impact. Single instance (no matter how redundant) is more than enough. Think of it this way, you'll only use it when you're going for the kill, so it's not as underpowered a concept as some people think. Most importantly, it encourages more complex strategies, which leads to a greater gaming experience. Counters can be very lazy, and blatantly overpowered. You can use them whenever you want and the effects carry-on forever. Laziness degrades the quality of gaming experience, so be cautions with counters and understand that single instances are a beautiful and elegant operation.
Power reduction is so powerful, I intended on adding another limit for maximum elegance. Originally, non-Demon was the limit that kept them from harming each other. This was supported by the concept of demons being dangerous entities and so a lesser demon (much like a lesser predator) stays away from greater threats. Slaughter Oni is also based on a demon that especially targets humans, but it wasn't as strongly focused since limiting the ability to only humans took away more potential than I was willing to let go of (there was enough restrictions already). In this distilling process, I came up with a really clever limit which elevated the sense of flavor in addition to adding some interesting design space.
Now, it only effects creatures without regenerate. The realism of this is, if you stab a regenerating creature, the wound would heal right away; only a normal creature is disabled from such a wound. It references regenerate as a keyword, and for application purposes, extends to creatures with a regeneration shield on them. As a final measure of balance, I reduced the creature from 2/2 to 2/1. Each digit is extremely crucial for balance. In the event of an exchange (piece for piece), it can only take-down creature with a max power of 3 and max toughness of 4 (well within common rarity limits ). At three mana, it's in the early-game time-frame. And in this time-frame, extending to four and five trips those power alarms, (given that's generally higher level content ).
I was steadily approaching the mid-range casting costs, but there was nothing left to do at this point except fill in the common content. I had already worked in the detailed content ahead of time in order to sketch out the framework of the red-black sector. I do this so that I can best configure the abilities of my lesser content to contour the more prominent stuff. If I just scribbled in anything, I would have to go back later-on to synchronize the content (for synergy). A mandatory simple design was yet to be supplied, so I took this opportunity to get it out of the way.
At a multicolor casting cost of four, it was a great filler between the ranges of other more detailed content (something in-between was just what I needed). In your development, you've got to scatter your content out. If you just jam all the best content in without scattering it out, you'll end up with an off-balance section, where the decks are either far too productive (all the good stuff is cheap) or can't keep pace (all the good stuff is expensive). For example, the efficiency of a 1/1 deathtouch for 1 (like Typhoid Rats ) should be obvious compared to a more expensive deathtoucher (like Sluiceway Scorpion ). This is called strategic placement, and the purpose of it is to ensure that the power is spread out across the board.
Nightmare Butcher is based on your average lesser demon. It's big, and brutal, and rules by violent force. It doesn't have any concern for anything else, it only lives to sustain itself, and it does as it pleases. It enjoys brutalizing everything. Like a predator in the wild, this dominance over the weak fuels its killer instinct. This was all represented by an above average body of 3/3 and a single ability of deathtouch, where both size and persona are emphasized.
Simple designs have pretty much only one dependency and that's flavor. Just make sure you perfectly nail the realism and relativity, and you'll always stick the landing. For simple designs, flavor-text plays an above average roll, and this was another important element to polish it off. The style of wit was used here (and to great success), but as I've said before, the nature of flavor-text has many styles. For best results, use them all if you can and do your best to mix things up. Too much serious tone and your flavor runs dry. Too much joking around and your flavor loses potency.
*Gasp!~* "The solid multicolor spell. I better not mess this up, it's the only one." That pretty much sums up preparations for this design because the concept was already assigned. It's a destruction theme, so need a destruction spell. I saved it for the solid multicolor section because it's a powerful operation, and the color requirements are like a rite of passage toward the ability (you can't tap into the power until you've earned it). Not much can be done to make destruction new, so instead I was aiming for quantity (two birds with one stone); double efficiency in place of a single articulate operation. So simple, yet so good. Taking the destruction specialties of each color and combining them was just that. There are a lot of powerful artifacts in the development, ensuring it's likely to be useful. Even so, in constructed formats, singular artifact destruction can hurt you more than it helps you. But it really does wonders as a bonus effect alongside something more prominent (like creature destruction).
The concept though, instead of being focused on demons, represents humanity against itself. It's the veer from red-green to red-black. It's symbolic of the true nature behind the Mahngao's manifest destiny. Although they're conquest is intended for the good of their people, the actions they take to seize what they're after are malicious and evil. This evil takes precedence over their honest intentions, relinquishing any credibility of a "for the greater good" defense. Conquest is its own brand of war, and in war, the atmosphere is not one of diplomacy. It's a wild and chaotic environment, where brute force and split-second decisions rule. People get carried away, they destroy more than they need to, and they make unethical decisions. This is the reality of war, pure brutality.
During this distilling process, I had decided that the design was far too plain. The conditions were too specific and the design didn't meet its expectations in terms of efficiency. I quickly swiped the ability and snapped a new one into place that opened those valves up like they should be. A triple multicolor Crack the Earth at four mana is very elegant, don't you agree? This double-edged sword provokes challenge, and better matches the concept of a Brutal Conquest, since in war, losses weigh heavily on both sides. Fine tuning your project with a move like this is more luck than anything else. There isn't really any advice that can be given to sharpen someone's ability to fine tune odd-ends, it takes experience. Just do the best you can and look it over many times.
In the development blueprints, tribal lands are an accessory to function and flavor amongst their specific themes. They add a unique boost on the battlefield in addition to bracing one's imagination (enabling each player to get a description of the theme). Never leave content that serves two purposes like this without one or the other, you need both or you're better off with nothing at all. I don't know what's worse than having to cut that flavorful land from your deck because it clogs up the flow of the cards and lags your deck, making it impossible to keep pace because you can't afford to have it in there as eye-candy in place of something "win-more". You want content like this to be both eye-candy and "win-more".
The entire cycle has a lot of common ground, so there was only a single creative element I needed to develop. Synergy is probably the single best operation to suit content like a tribal land. It's in the nature of one's natural environment to be a supportive element. If you ever happen to run out of design space, just be cool, it doesn't have to always be direct synergy as long as it can be combo matera in some way. Meaning, it doesn't have to directly connect with the content. It can do something linear that eventually meets up along the way. That's what I had to do here.
Most of the concepts I brainstormed over were too powerful, or they were overlapping other content in a gaudy way. It was after awhile I realized I had no choice but to overlap content, so I naturally sought out the most graceful choice (something that was naturally stackable). Power/toughness reduction blends together in stacks with fluency. It's not something that stands out in an uncomfortable measure (because in multiple instances it all sums up as one effect). I developed the demon content suggesting a power-thirsty overtone. Their power veers high and their toughness veers low. The synergy was channeled by reducing a greater measure of power, rather than toughness (along the lines of Weakness ). Another important reason not to veer the reduction toward defense is because the potential to act as removal becomes too great (only in multiples should that kind of potential be available).
It's common protocol that all land abilities come at a cost, and two mana was the happy medium set as common ground for this cycle. I just needed to make sure whatever abilities I gave them were acceptable in the two-mana, two-color range. As a personal precaution, I wanted them to be pretty decent abilities for the cost (remember they need to be "win-more" not just eye-candy). At , a timed-lapsed reduction of -2/-1 checked out to be a fair boost up from its closet contemporary, Quicksand (which has no mana cost and whose reduction has a higher possiblity to act as removal). This means it's likely going to need combat interaction to act as removal, which in turn will require even more combo matera since people will seek to naturally avoid a losing confrontation.
Lastly, it Killing Fields very potent sense of flavor. The Killing Fields are essentially a graphic depiction of "the Deadlands". This is the area where the fallen Goddess Lilith and Mara have set up camp. The land is barren due to the rampage brought about by the lesser demons they've unleashed, which scavenge the land like wild territorial animals. They act as natural pest control, keeping lesser threats from bothering being a bother to Lilith or Mara. The reduction ability is symbolic of a dangerous place. Threats are everywhere and you're going to have to fight your way through it, the damages you suffer naturally take their toll, weakening the unfortunate victims (or killing them). Threats like this may eventually break free from their habitat and go wandering, causing widespread damages. Both concepts doing well to match the land's operating function to the nature of a threatening environment.
Isn't this an asian/chinese set? And isn't Lilith from jewish mythology? Why even put her in here? Is the flavor that she planeswalked here from a jewish themed world? I also don't think the wording works the way you want it to on the static ability, unless you are supposed to be able to cast an opponent's Emrakul for . The -X is just overpowered. She's basically a sorcery that says "destroy 4 target lands and deal 4 damage to their controller". Your opponent loses when you play her on turn 4, end of story.
The second clause on Lilith's first ability should read, "You may spend and mana as though it were mana of any color when casting spells from an opponent's graveyard," or something similar. I'd suggest the wording clinic for that kind of thing, though the ability itself is interesting. Not sure I like it as a loyalty-enabled; it seems like it'd fit better as a -3.
Objection! Or Objective - I mean. Title: An Objective Take on the Assorted Works of Kevin, in BS 2012.
Lilith is probably still too good. She's an immediate Fleshbag Marauder , except that she can't hurt herself, and then you get that static ability, unless they can take her out now with less creatures than before. The static ability is kinda cool though - but I'd suggest, with respect, that it become a "-" ability - or one that is harder to attain. Once you have it, it seems doubtful that you'll lose it. I mean, the sac. thing is pretty wicked strong. This can also just be a one-sided Armageddon with damage tacked on. In fact that'd probably be just what it is. Since you're fond of innovative ideas - why not make a condition on the amount of loyalty you have, before you can utilize that ability? Destroy 4 lands and deal 4 damage for 4? What if it were still -X, but she needed 9 or 10 loyalty to even use it? I'm sure she'd still be plenty strong.
Shihong is fairly strong. Basically, a psuedo-Seething Song on an uber-indestructable 4/1? I dunno. You're probably aware of how nuts-crazy this card is.
Shoakuinu is more balanced. Based on the levels of your other cards, I doubt this could see Standard play. I don't know how strong Human Tribal is in your set, but this seems unlikely as even a SB card. The flavour text is worthy of a cringe. Good job1.
Kami of Death's Shadow - Nothing to see here, Glitterfang is stronger - but that isn't a bad thing. Flavour text could probably use an edit.
Immolate - All good.
Cruelty of Mind and Heart - Spellshape is pretty much just kicker - though so many mechanics are. Spellshape is fine on this card, though I'd hate to see it on a larger spell. Even Spellshapers, pay mana for the spells that they shape.
Asura B - Interesting. Functional as an Attacker and a Blocker. Slaughter and Laughter don't rhyme, but I think I've made it clear how I feel about tacky flavour text. (If I haven't: I'm into it.)
Beholder of Nightmares seems pretty fun. Players would hate it - but I might run it, just because if you got the trigger to actually work, it would be amusing. You aren't planning on bringing back Madness are you?
Oni Axeman - Demon Offering? The other offerings made sense. You sac a little wee snake or fox or whatever to get this giant Spirit Weirdness. I dunno how I feel about offering a demon. It is to another Demon, but still. Card itself is probably okay. Intimidate on a flashable sac creature doesn't seem OP. Finisher for Abyssal Persecutor ?
Wall of Malice seems really too good. I'd add a . You basically neutered all the creatures your opponent has probably cast so far.
Oni Butcher is fine.
Slaughterlust Oni - A little worried about your Jitte Oni. Could you reduce it to one counter?
Brutal Conquest - See? Compare this to the Walker. I know that there is a lot of Rarity difference here, and everyone has their own philosophy on what Rarity means, but this is good, and the Walker is still like a thousand times better.
Killing Fields is strong, but with all the LD it seems your set has, probably not overly so. Personally I'd still up the -2/-1 cost by or .
There's a lot of really nice stuff here. Beholder of Nightmares is awesome, Slaughterlust Oni is solid (if perhaps a bit too good in Limited), and Brutal Conquest is a very clean card I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen printed yet. On the other side of things, Lilith is out-of-flavor and amazingly, ridiculously, stupendously overpowered -- turn 4 Lilith, -X with X=4 puts your opponent in an unrecoverable position.
"Go, then. There are other worlds than these." -- Stephen King, The Gunslinger
Some things to make the forums nicer -- Last updated 28 AprShow
Lilith, Empress of Evil: Kind of incredibly strong. Turn 4 this is basically a one sided Armageddon at the very least. Should probably enter with 1 loyalty so that you can't immediatly destroy all their lands and doesn't have her passive ability immediately activated. That may even be a bit strong but it's pretty much the only way to have a semblance of balance in her current state.
Shihong, the Dark Inferno: Eh, I'm not sure how I feel about militance. I see the difference between it and indestructible but I'm not really sure it's different enough to justify a keyword. The card is definitely powerful, indestructible isn't usually costed this aggressively so I don't think militance should be either. Does Ki Mastery allow sorceries to be cast as instants?
Shaokuinu Who Feasts on Flesh: This.....is actually pretty weak. A 6/3 body for 6 isn't especially impressive and depending on the environment he's being played in the effects are entirely variable in effectiveness. I could see this as a rare but at mythic you could definitely stand to push his power a bit more.
Kami of Death's Shadows: R/B Raging Goblin , nothing more to really say.
Immolate: Perfectly fine.
Cruelty of Mind and Heart: Not sure how I feel about Spellshape, really depends on the cards it appears on. This card is fine even though I don't personally like how mixed hybrid costs look on a card (besides Reaper King )
Asura Battusai: Really solid beater that can also pull work on defense, no complaints.
Beholder of Nightmares: I don't care whether it's any good or not, I like it.
Oni Axeman: Er, demon offering seems a bit misplaced. Shouldn't it be humans? There are very few demons that would be worth feeding to this guy considering most are both more powerful and higher cmc. That and possible memory issues aside it's solid.
Wall of Malice: Seems a bit too strong, for limited especially. Should probably cost 3.
Slaughterlust Oni: This should definitely be uncommon and would still be playable at 4, way too good for a common as is.
Oni Butcher: Not really much I can say about him, solid card.
Brutal Conquest: Should probably be and/or instead of just and so you don't run the risk of blowing up your own artifacts, unless that was the intention. Either way a decent card.
I began apply some patches, starting with Shouakuinu (whom I've only just noticed now that the name was wrong). I'm staring at it like, "What's Shouka mean again?" Improperly the name in that state meant Victory, flying high (Sho); Uka is Bulgarian for evil (was supposed to be Aku, which is Japanese for evil); and of course Inu is Japanese for dog. Shouka however, is Japanese meaning Digestion. Very wrong. I must have typo'd that long ago and never noticed it.
Anyways, I had to pause to get a workout in. I've finished applying all the patches for now. The name Slaughterlust has been a longstanding bother to me. At times it doesn't seem as tacky, but I've just shortened it for good measure. I also changed the ability up to only effect creatures without regenerate instead of non-demon creatures (a flavor reason I'll explain later).
Lilith I'll explain later, but summarized, I applied a more synergistic ultimate (a long-standing implementation). I also brushed up the composition a little on the LEA (Loyalty Enabled Ability). Just to calm your doubts on the LEA, the ability in its current structure only changes the type of mana you can use to pay the costs. It doesn't have to say "as though it were colorless mana". That's an obsolete wording composition. At least, it's simplified for best results here.
Lastly, Brutal Conquest was updated but I'll get to that later as well.
And that comment about me being a weeabo is a totally a joke. This set spans all the Asian nations. I've done my best to include names, concepts, and mythology from as many different Asian provinces that I could. Weeabo literally means that you desperately cling to a stereo-typical Japanese lifestyle and make it apart of how you present yourself in every way. In no manner have I ever asserted myself like this, so your little comment doesn't fit the description at all. I have a deep understanding of people from all walks of life. I wouldn't present myself in a manner that's so desperate and unappealing.
Lilith's ultimate still isn't really much of an ultimate, per se. It's ridiculous in a duel where she now has a better Distress for a -1. She doesn't flat out win the game is she resolves on turn 4 any more but it's still pretty brutal for a 4 mana walker.
Really liking the new Brutal Conquest.
Slaughter Oni definitely still needs a bump up to uncommon.
I'd like to hear what you have to say in regards to my comments on Shihong, Shoakinu and Oni Axeman.