Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Card of the Day - Steppe Raiders

Not a shade.

Original Art

Card of the Day - Darkskull Expedition

This is the card for Monday, March 30. Excuses merely encourage further misbehavior, so I won't give any.

Lotsa black token-making lately.

Original Art

Sunday, March 29, 2009

1984 Cards

Remember when I said I'd post the 1984 cards if I ever found them? Well, today I did. Anything in parentheses () is a comment I wrote then. Anything in two braces {{}} is a comment I added now. Otherwise, these are exactly as I wrote them. Keep in mind that these just initial ideas, not finished cards, so they are written in a sloppy shorthand.

Frenzied (Something) [R]
Creature - Something
Doublethink 2 - Sac. this creature

Attack Helicopter [4][R]
Creature - Soldier
First strike
When Attack Helicopter comes into play, it does 2 damage to target creature

Patrol Helicopter [2][U]
Creature - Police?
Doublethink 4 - look at target player's hand

Loyal Party Member [1][W]
Creature - Outer Party Member

Eurasian Thug [1][G]
Creature - Eurasian Soldier

Rocket Bomb [3][R]
Kicker - Sac. a creature
3 damage to target creature/player
3 damage more if you paid kicker

Two-Minutes Hate [1][R]
Up to two target creatures get +3/+1 until end of turn.

Basic Land
[T]: Add [W]

Basic Land
[T]: Add [R]

Basic Land
[T]: Add [U]

Basic Land
[T]: Add [B]

Railroad? (Maybe keep as forest?)
Basic Land
[T]: Add [G]

Prole Mob [3][W]
Creature - Prole
Doublethink 1 - put a +1/+1 counter on Prole mob
When Prole mob's power is 6 or greater, sacrifice it and you lose 3 life

Eastasian Spec-ops [3][G]
Doublethink 2 - put a +1/+0 counter on Eastasian Specops
First Strike

Ministry of Plenty
Legendary land
Miniplenty comes into play tapped
Whenever you sacrifice a creature, you gain 1 life
[T]: Add [W] to your mana pool
[T], Sac. a creature: Add [Any Color] to your mana pool

Mercenary Soldier [3][R] (maybe Black)
Creature - Mercenary
Kicker - Sac. a creature
If you paid the kicker, put 2 +1/+1 counters on it

Miniluv Prison Guard [1][B][B]
Creature - Outer Party Member
Whenever you sacrifice a creature, each other player loses 1 life

Eastasian General [4][G] {{Flip card}}
Creature - Eastasian Soldier
Creatures you control have 1st strike and +1/+2
Doublethink 3 - flip
Eurasian General [4][G] {{Flip card}}
Creature - Eurasian Soldier
Creatures you control have trample and +2/+1
Doublethink 3 - flip

Thought Police [2][U][B]
Creature - Thought Police?
[U], [T]: Tap target creature
[3][B], [T]: Destroy target tapped creature

Vaporize [1][U][B] {{predates Unmake by about a year}}
Remove target creature from the game

Hate Week [6][R]
(Legendary)? Sorcery
Remove all doublethink counters from the game
(Flashback - [4][R], sac. 3 creatures)?

Prole Crowd [W]
Creature - Prole
Doublethink 10
When the last doublethink counter is removed, gets +7/+7 and trample until end of turn

Spies Recruit [1][R]
Creature - Child?
Doublethink 2 - Spies recruit deals 1 damage to target creature/player

Room 101 [5][B][B]
Legendary Enchantment
[4][U]: Gain control of target creature. It gains doublethink 1 Sac. this creature

O'Brien [5][B][B]
Creature - Inner Party Member
[T]: Destroy target creature with Doublethink
Sac. a creature: Untap O'Brien

Helecopter Squad [5][U][U]
Creature - Soldier
Protection from Green

Hunger [3][B]
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
When you sac. a creature, return Hunger from your graveyard to your hand

Starving Rats [1][B]
Creature - Rat
When you sac. Starving Rats, target player discards a card

{{No name}} [3][R]
Creature - Party member
[1][R], Sac a creature: Deal 2 damage to target creature or player

Fanaticism [2][W][W]
When you sac a nontoken creature, put a 1/1 white party member into play

Twisted Researcher [3][U]
Creature - Party Member
When you sac. a creature, draw a card
[T]: Sac a creature

Cruel Experiment [1][U]
Kicker - sac. a creature
Draw a card
Draw another if you paid kicker

Peek [U] {{Reprint}}
Look at target player's hand.
Draw a card

Party Fanatic [R]
Creature - Outer Party Member
When you sacrifice Party Fanatic, deal 1 damage to target creature/player

Famine [2][B][B]
All creatures get -1/-1

Patrol Squad [3][B]
Creature - Police

Prole Shopkeeper [W]
Creature - Prole
When Prole Shopkeeper comes into play, it deals 2 damage to you.
Doublethink 1 - put a ? counter on Prole Shopkeeper
When you sac. Party Shopkeeper {{should say prole shopkeeper}}, gain life equal to the number of ? counters on it

Exocution Squad [5][B] {{should say Execution Squad}}
Creature - Party Member
Doublethink 5 - destroy target creature without doublethink

Bell Tower
Bell tower comes into play tapped
[T]: Add [W] to your mana pool
[T], sacrifice {{bell tower}}: Return target creature sacrificed this turn from your graveyard to ply

Miniplenty [3]
Artifact Land (Legendary)
When you sac a creature, you may gain 1 life
[T]: Add [W]
[T], sac. a creature: add [W][W][W]

The Spies Squad [3][R][R]
Creature - Party Member
Doublethink 1 - Deal 2 damage to target creature/player

Floating Fortress [6]
[T], sac. a creature: deal damage equal to that creature's power to target creature/player

Penguirexasaur [2][R][R] {{placeholder name}}
Creature - Dinosaur
When Penguirexasaur comes into play, sac. 2 creatures

Hapless Scientist [U]
Creature - Party Member
Sac: Draw a card

Mindwipe [2][U][U] {{predates Counterbore by about a year}}
Counter target spell. Search that spell's controller's hand, library, and graveyard for all copies of that spell and remove them from the game

Eastasian Helicopter [3][G] {{flip card}}
Creature - Eastasian Soldier
Flying, first strike
Doublethink 3 - flip
Eurasian Helicopter [3][G] {{flip card}}
Creature - Eurasian Soldier
Flying, Trample
Doublethink 3 - flip

{{At this point, the cards cease to be related to 1984. The names have changed, but the concepts are mostly things I was considering for the set}}

Rough [1G] {{Split card. Name already taken, but I didn't know at the time}}
Target creature gets +2/+2 and trample until end of turn
Tumble [W] {{Split card. Name already taken, but I didn't know at the time}}
Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to target creature this turn

Hit [R] {{Split card. Name already taken, but I didn't know at the time}}
Deal 2 damage to target creature
Run [U] {{Split card. Name already taken, but I didn't know at the time}}
Return target creature you control to its owner's hand

Lifeleech [3][G]
{{No card type or subtype}}
Whenever a source deals damage to you, put that many +1/+1 counters on Lifeleech

Blood of the Martyr [4]
Echo [3]
[1], [T]: Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature

Blinding Light [3][W][W]
Destroy target nonwhite creature

Urn of Life [4]
Whenever you sacrifice a nontoken creature, put a 1/1 green saproling creature token into play

Skirk Spy [2][R]
Creature - Goblin Rogue
Impatience {{A mechanic I made and then discontinued before discovering Magic Set Editor. Because I had never entered the rules for Impatience into MSE or made any MSE cards with impatience, I had forgotten about it and haven't included it in the mechanic poll for that reason. I'll add it to round four. This card might give some clue as to what it does.}}
At the beginning of your upkeep, Skirk Spy gains defender until end of turn

Gaea's Dragoon [1][G][W]
Creature - Human Knight
Vigilance, First Strike
When Annointed Dragoons {{old name}} comes into play, target opponent gains 4 life

Toxic Dart [B]
Put a poison counter on target player

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Card of the Day - Fell Banishing, Impromptu Revival, Worldmoss

Confession time. I did not create reclaim. I discovered it during a brief stint on the MTG Salvation forums. Someone else had created a fair few intelligent, well-designed cards with it and I thought, "this is just what I need for Chicken." Chicken, the codename of the first set in the Chicken block (followed by Noodle and Soup) had a land-matters theme. A mechanic that messed around with lands would be a welcome addition. So, being the well-mannered individual that I am, I politely sent the creator a message asking if I could use his mechanic. This was a nicety. I did not have to do it. Only Wizards of the Coast has copyrights for cards and mechanics. But I wanted to be thoughtful and to honor the collective illusion of control, and to give him a chance to feel good about graciously granting my request. The response I received was anything but polite. It informed me that I could use reclaim but that I was not to display any cards I created with it. Although it granted permission, it did so grudgingly. This guy seemed insulted that I should even notice this mechanic he had revealed in the public domain for all to see, let alone request to use it. Well, I'm violating his terms. I've been able to use reclaim since the second I laid eyes on it, permission or not. Reclaim's creator is a smart fella and a good designer. But that doesn't give him permission to be rude.

NOTA BENE: None of my cards or mechanics or names or what-have-you belong to me. Not reclaim, not fervor, not portend, not anything. Only the art has some ownership attached to it, and none of it's mine. Even if I did have control over these things, I would encourage people to use them. Collaboration (even when not actually working together) fosters creativity. Just look at growing (the mechanic Shenafu based on doublethink). And look at the new way I'm using reclaim:

Reclaim is one of those things that gives me difficulty when judging the power level. So I'm not sure if Fell Banishing is good or if it's terrible or if it's just mediocre. But I am sure that it's neat. And yes, the discard triggers for both spells if you reclaimed a swamp.

This is exactly the sort of card I railed against during Shadowmoor. Sure, white does get some zombify effects, and green does get some raise dead effects, but mono-green doesn't get zombify. Because of cards like Temple Garden and Hermit's Hovel, you can get 3 Plains in a mono-green deck. It is better than hybrid in that you HAVE to have some way to get white mana to get its white ability, but it irks me that you don't actually have to use that mana.

But I'm getting too serious about this. After all, Magic is just a game (and these cards aren't even real).

What do we do with games? We win them! Twice!

EDIT: The original version let you win the game without actually reclaiming any lands. While certainly amusing, it was slightly overpowered. The problem has been subdued.

I just lost the game.

Original Art - Fell Banishing
Original Art - Impromptu Revival
Original Art - Worldmoss

Fucking Worthless

New Rocket Quest

EDIT: And another. Longest one yet.

Card of the Day - Rage Infusion and Desmodu Raid

Reclaim is, like so many other mechanics, a form of kicker cost. Reclaim is functionally superfluous because any reclaim card can be made with kicker. Then again, so are entwine and evoke. It's not an issue.

When you play Rage Infusion, you chose whether or not to bounce the two lands. If you do, you copy Rage Infusion and chose a new target for the copy (although it can also target the same creature). The spell and the copy resolve separately, so countering will only affect one of them. You can only reclaim once per spell.

This card should be red. The only reason it's black is because of the art. The critters (called gremlins by the artist) look uncannily like desmodu, bat people in Dungeons and Dragons. They also look uncannily unlike goblins. And there has yet to be a bat printed that wasn't black. Who am I to break that cycle?

A terrible designer, that's who.

Original Art - Rage Infusion
Original Art - Desmodu Raid

Friday, March 27, 2009

[Land Week] Card of the Day - Bustling Port

Bustling Port is too good. Colorless mana is surprisingly hard to use (especially when it's not your turn). The Port will almost always ping when you use it. The occasional mana that ends up in your opponent's lap is an insignificant cost.

EDIT: As of the Magic 2010 rules updates, Bustling Port sucks. If only it added mana of any color instead...

Original Art

Land Friday

This card has been updated and improved.

I considered putting [Land Week] in the title, but that would have been no bueno. Land Friday cares little for other features.

The cycle is nearly complete.

Original Art

Thursday, March 26, 2009

[Land Week] Card of the Day - Sun-Scorched Waste

The Ancient Byzantine Wisdom staff (Grell) is very pleased usher in the fourth day of land week. Tomorrow, because of Land Friday, ABW will showcase two lands. Saturday and Sunday we'll present the winner of the mechanic search's round three. This is, understandably, too exciting. So today's card should help bore you back to normal.

Set one in a block - reintroduce poison counters. Have a few good cards that work well together so that poison quickly becomes a dominant standard deck.
Set two - Print Sun-Scorched Waste. Watch as poison suffers.
Set three - Print a 3-mana land destruction spell that gives your opponent a poison counter. Party.

Sun-Scorched Waste is a flavor disaster. I can think of no reason why a blighted snowscape (good card name) would have anything at all to do with preventing poisoning.

Original Art

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strange Men

New Rocket Quest

[Land Week] Card of the Day - Crystal Spire

Fuck it. We'll do it live.

Original Art

[Land Week] Technical Difficulties

My computer is on the fritz. I'll try to get it sorted out as soon as possible, but don't expect any more cards until then. Land Week is on hold.

Monday, March 23, 2009

[Land Week] Card of the Day - Glacial Castle

The Ancient Byzantine Engineers are pleased to welcome you to day two of Land Week. It's like Land Friday, but it lasts four days longer than it should.

Do you realize how many times you can give Thermopod haste with this thing? Six times! That is a lot of haste.

Original Art

Sunday, March 22, 2009

[Land Week] Card of the Day - Paradise Isle

In honor of Mana-fixing week over at magicthegathering.com (and in particular Mark Rosewater's latest article) the whole ABW team (i.e. Grell with occasional input from Draco) is pleased to present Land Week. It's like Land Friday, but all week long. How exciting.

I found this interesting artwork which reminded me of Utopia Tree. And I decided to make a five-color land. But it got a little out of hand. See for yourself:

Draco suggested that to celebrate the end of spring break, I should post the most evil card imaginable. Those were pretty vile, but there's worse to come:


Original Art

Card of the Day - Horiffic Bargain

Twenty cards - Awesome
One life - Significantly less awesome
Worth it? - Maybe

Going to 1 life is a pretty significant drawback. I wonder just how many cards you'd have to draw for it to be worth it.

This card originally cost a measly [U][B] and only let you draw four cards. The current version is much more interesting, don't you think?

Original Art

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Card of the Day - Gladiatorial School, Slum, Rancid Marsh, and Tincture of Madness

Doublethink arose when my English class was assigned a project on 1984. A friend and I determined that we would make a 1984 set of Magic cards. We got fairly far along before ditching the idea (making a set is a great deal of work) and hooking our fortunes onto another group's work. And by "hooking our fortunes," I mean I worked my ass off for the new group while my set-design partner did jack shit.

We had gotten far enough before ditching to work out the two major themes - doublethink and sacrificing stuff. And by "work out," I mean I worked it out. "We" had also decided that we would introduce five new basic lands. Not land types. Lands.

A Plains by any other name...

Factories were Mountains and Laboratories were Islands. Railroads were Forests because we couldn't think of anything better. I don't remember what we renamed Swamps.

I still have a lot of our card ideas from back then. Nobody knew about Magic Set Editor, so all our cards were on paper. That means no rarity (we were still in the brainstorming phase) and no art. I'll post them in their original text-only form as soon as I re-find them.

But let's get back to doublethink. Actually, let's get back to growing. Shenafu suggested this alternate mechanic in the comments for yesterday's cards. I like growing. It has a more magic-y name and, far more importantly, it has significantly shorter rules text. True, it makes for slightly different rules interactions, but that's no problem. This next card could not be possible using doublethink due to text length, but growing solves that problem.

Rancid Marsh lets you choose when you use its colored-mana-producing ability, which a doublethink card wouldn't. I could change the wording a little so that it worked in the same way, but that looks ugly on the card (it has a fair amount of repeated words) and is not as exciting or useful to the player.

This is something you could never do with doublethink. It just keeps on growing more and more maddening so not even Trusted Advisor can save you. And it never resets. Once the madness count hits seven, there's no going back. Unless you play Naturalize or something. But who does that?

I imagine that this might have some synergy with The Rack. But I could be mistaken.

NOTA BENE: The substance depicted in Tincture of Madness's art is actually a dust of some sort. No tincture is involved. I guess that makes the name an homage or something. Who knows?

Original Art - Gladiatorial School
Original Art - Slum
Original Art - Rancid Marsh
Original Art - Tincture of Madness

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Card of the Day - Jungle Raptor and Cave Giant

Doublethink is the winner! Seven votes out of Eight. A veritable voting block. Doublethink, like vanishing, starts the card with a number of counters then gets rid of one a turn. But when the last doublethink counter is removed, instead of nuking the permanent, you just fill 'er right up again with counters. And maybe do something. But that's not part of the ability.

Woohoo! 10/10! And you only have to wait 6 turns! Doublethink's biggest problem is that it's wordy. I wanted to make a land with doublethink 2 that gained "T: Add [B] or [G] to your mana pool" until end of turn when the last counter went away, but there wasn't room for all the text. In fact, even with their relatively simple abilities, these two both violate the text length rule of thumb. If you can't fit it within seven lines, it's too long. Jungle Raptor and Cave Giant both take up eight. Oops.

That's actually the reason I gave up on doublethink. Sure, the name doesn't really fit in a fantasy card game, but names are easy to change. What isn't is the sheer mass of text that all doublethink cards have.

Doublethink origins tomorrow, with more doublethink cards. And by tomorrow, I mean Thursday.

Original Art - Jungle Raptor
Original Art - Cave Giant

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reflections on Watchmen

So, Grell has graciously allowed me to post my thoughts on the Watchmen movie on his blog. Spoiler warning: this post is intended for those already familiar with the plot and ideas graphic novel, as well as the movie adaptation. If you're interested in reading what I have to say and haven't read the book/seen the movie, check them out first, this post will be waiting. Let's start with where I think Watchmen really succeeded as a film.

Visually, Watchmen is a triumph. Over the past few years comic book movies have seen an immense leap in quality, but no one is able to translate the world contained in the source material onto the screen like Zack Snyder. The opening credits montage is sheer brilliance. It sets up the history behind a world so different from ours, yet despite the radioactive blue men and hovercrafts flying around, it's a world that feels relevant, a world that reflects some of the darker images contained in ours we often try not to think about. Watchmen doesn't have the luxury of iconic character designs or slick suits of armor to rely on to draw in the viewer; it has men in moth costumes and bondage masks. Yet somehow it works. Coupled with the Herculean feat accomplished by David Hayter and Alex Tse of compressing Moore's complex prose into a coherent script, Watchmen contains shot after shot that nails both the appearance and intent of the original comic book panels.

Not only does Watchmen succeed in replicating its source material, but actually transcends it and pushes the images to new extremes; where before a prisoner Rorschach has trapped had his throat cut, now his arms are lopped off with a power saw. This intensification and stylization occasionally falls short. Dan and Laurie's sex scene in the Owlship is ugly, difficult to watch, and if you bring yourself to watch it, it's hard to do so without bursting out into laughter. It sometimes feels like Watchmen is trying to be two things at once; a movie, and a film. The "movie" part caters to the mainstream, the viewers drawn in by the promise of seeing the Comedian lighting a cigar with flamethrower before torching Vietnamese rebels. It's violent, gory, adult, but very Hollywood. The "film" is the faithful reproduction of the graphic novel, transferring all the ideas and feelings contained in the pages of Watchmen onto the screen. While less shallow and more thought-provoking, I don't believe a perfect translation of the book to film could have succeeded.

For one, the very nature of Watchmen makes it an impossible task. "There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can't," said Alan Moore in 2008. The Black Freighter, the exerpts from "Under the Hood", and simply being able to flip back a few pages and reread a page to clarify a point; all these things are incapable of being executed in a film. Beyond that, a completely faithful film would be boring. Watchmen contains a handful of panels depicting action scenes; it takes 5 1/2 hours to read the book out loud at normal speed. Were the film structured as such, audiences would leave the film in droves. So the blending of movie/film elements was neccessary to a large degree. That said, my biggest issues with the film are intellectual issues.

Most of the problems emerge for me towards the end. I'm not going to get into the squid debacle. Ultimately I believe nixing it was at least a fair call; "Giant Psychic Squid" is a tough sell to audiences who just sat through 3 hours of buildup to nuclear armageddon. But while Dr. Manhattan being blamed for the attacks makes sense on the surface, the idea doesn't hold up to a deeper analysis. The entire point of an alien invasion is that the threat is completely and utterly foreign; it represents a threat outside the bounds of human knowledge and experience. Dr. Manhattan however, was created by the United States in the 50's. For 30 years, Manhattan has been the face of American hegemony. After a creation of the U.S. apparently goes rogue and kills 15 million people, would the rest of the world be so eager to join hands and sing "Kumbaya" with the nation responsible, the same nation who used Manhattan as a giant blue gun to hold to their heads? The emotional impact of the ending is diluted considerably as well. Instead of seeing Laurie and Manhattan wander through a blood-drenched NYC, a city filled with people who died screaming, who died in agony, all we see is a smoldering crater. The sense of human loss is anesthetized, moreso by our familiarity with seeing bloodless New York craters on the big screen.

After such consistency to the themes of the book throughout the film, it's such a let-down for the themes to be diluted at the moment when they should be at their strongest. Rorschach fittingly remains consistent to the end (and Haley's performance truly deserves commendation). But Manhattan's final line to Veidt, the three words that manage to finally break his conviction and show him ultimately to still be human, are robbed and stuck in a scene where they lack anywhere close to the original impact. Laurie and Dan no longer show the very human urge to retreat when confronted with incomprehendible evil; instead of shacking up together, Dan beats up Veidt a bit, then goes off to start a new life with Laurie. It's not a bad ending. But it's a lesser ending. The "movie" eclipses the "film".

Ultimately, despite the issues I have with it, I think Watchmen is overall a success. I've seen it twice now, and picked up on so much more the second time around. It's a film to be viewed multiple times, that can be appreciated on multiple levels. It's far from perfect. We've seen from Iron Man and Dark Knight that the comic book adaptions that are the most successful are the ones that take the core elements of the stories and adapt them in a way that modern filmmaking can enhance them, such as Stark's disgust at the possibility of his weapons being used by terrorists or a reimagining of the Joker to fit Christopher Nolan's Batman and world. The fact that Watchmen remains so faithful to the book, any missteps made come across as especially jarring, and knock the viewer out of the film. I'm eagerly waiting to see the director's cut, but as it stands now, Watchmen is a powerful, complex film.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Card of the Day - Mistify

(This card was originally posted with the name "Turn to Mist")

Did you know that the majority of spells don't have targets? Well, they don't.

FUN FACT: Mistify is one of the few counterspells that can't be used to counter itself.

EDIT: Turns out Turn to Mist is already a card. The name has been changed to Mistify in a cheesy homage to the original. I would thank the person who pointed this out, but I have no idea who that person is.

Original Art

Card of the Day - Bull Unicorn

Similar to Bull Cerodon, only fat. Why are all my unicorns fat?

Original Art

Card of the Day - Bog Unicorn

A day late and, once again, there are no excuses. A thousand pardons.

Original Art

Saturday, March 14, 2009



I have invited one of my friends to write on Ancient Byzantine Wisdom, so expect to eventually see an article by Draco on the Watchmen movie. Don't think of him as a contributor. Think of him as an engineer. An ancient Byzantine engineer, chock full of wisdom.

In the light of this new arrival, I have somewhat depersonalized ABW. But not too much. Gotta kowtow to my ego.

Card of the Day - Gar Range Hellkite

Not too pleased with the name. A gar is a type of fish.

Original Art

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Land Friday

Why yes, it's Friday (or close enough).

Original Art

Card of the Day - Time Balm

I am just absurdly pleased with this card's name.

Original Art

Rocket Quest

Rocket Quest is a little log I'm throwing together about playing though Pokemon Silver attempting to be a member of Team Rocket. This is not my first time to attempt this (I got to the Elite Four and came damn close to beating them over the flight to and from England), but it is my first time to write about it. The posts will be kinda short because I don't really have that much time to play Pokemon and I want to be able to update fairly frequently.

Card of the Day - Overbearing Behemoth

Original Art

Card of the Day - Summon Blight

I have been bad about updating lately. This card is for Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

It is part of a cycle that was inspired by the Giant's Ire cycle in Lorwyn. I liked that they were tribal cantrips, but I kept going on about how much better (not necessarily more powerful) they would have been if you always got to draw a card and only got the effect if you controlled a permanent of the right creature type. Oddly enough, I started this cycle with a white card. It gains you life, though, so it's not too odd.

All cards in the cycle have "Summon" in their card name, except this one.

Original Art

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We Have a Winner

In case you missed the memo, Scour is the big winner of the mechanics poll, with an astounding 38% of the vote. Congratulations, Scour. Here's what it does:

Scour X (When you play this card, reveal the top X cards of your library. You may chose one of these cards that shares a card type with this card and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.)

So scour is essentially a specialized form of card drawing. One important feature - it resolves separately from the spell and it resolves first. If the spell is countered, you still get to scour.

Scour is a triggered ability.

Thank you for voting, and please cast your vote in the next mechanic poll.

It's Over

Problem Sleuth, the most surreal, longest, most frequently updating, and by far most exciting webcomic I have ever read, is over. I think I'm going to cry.


Card of the Day - Battle Golem and Deep Cogitation

Since scour only cares about sharing one card type, you could net an artifact or a creature with this young... metal person.

No reminder text. You can't pull this shit without a lot of instances of a mechanic in a set at common and uncommon. Even then, you need to be consistent with your other rares. I couldn't have this card in the same set (hell, same block) as another rare with scour that had reminder text.

Original Art - Battle Golem
Original Art - Deep Cogitation

Card of the Day - Land Bridge and Ritual of Petals

I could offer all sorts of excuses of why I didn't post this card yesterday when I should have. I will not do that. Instead, I offer you scour. This isn't the way the mechanic is usually worded, though.

That's the bunny. The wording is not the best thing in the world (it's all 'card', 'card', 'card'), but I couldn't figure out how to improve that.

Here's how it is supposed to work. You play Ritual of Petals, targeting a creature in your graveyard. Scour triggers, putting another effect (the scour effect) on the stack on top of Ritual of Petals. Scour resolves first, independently of the spell (so the spell could be countered and scour would still resolve). When scour resolves, you reveal the top X (in this case 4) cards of your library. You may take a sorcery (since Ritual of Petals is a sorcery) from those cards and put it into your hand. Put all remaining revealed cards on the bottom of your library in any order. If you revealed no sorceries, you don't get anything. If you revealed multiple sorceries, you only get one (although you don't have to take any of them).

Land Bridge works in much the same way, although I'm not sure if it's legit because I don't think lands go on the stack. Regardless, when the scour ability resolves, you reveal the top card of your library. If it's a land, you may put it into your hand. If you don't, or it's not a land, put that sucka' on the bottom of your library.

Scour is a triggered ability.

Original Art - Land Bridge
Original Art - Ritual of Petals

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shit be Gold!

There is an Alara Reborn preview card, minus rules text

It is the first card in the set. And it's gold. What could this mean?

  • They're changing the sorting order. I hope this isn't the case. The current sorting order is good. The only problem is the way it deals with multicolor cards, but they shouldn't have to mess up the entire order to fix it.
  • The entire set is gold. That would be crazy. And Wizards has done some crazy shit in the past. If that's the case, I'm going to be pessimistic about it now so I'll look better if it turns out badly. I worry that they're going to mangle the color pie.
  • They're just fucking with us. Unlikely.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Adios, Bitch

DMK has been slain.

Card of the Day - Liquify and Tie to Infinity

Exciting times. The people (all eight of 'em) are speaking, and they will be heard. Or, if the current poll results are any guide, about three of them will.

Portend was originally a joke mechanic, until I realized it wasn't funny.

That was a joke right there.

Hah hah.

You can stop laughing now.

Portend was originally I SAID STOP LAUGHING a joke mechanic but I realized that it wasn't needlessly complex and didn't pose the rule issues that a lot of my other joke mechanics did. I did cap the turn at three, though. After that, it just becomes too difficult to keep track of. I've fooled around with portend some, but free cards are spooky and I try to steer clear of them.

This is the kind of card I really like designing. You can play it on turn two, but it's worse then. There is no text on the card that says this, but you are not likely to have many good targets for it. Unless your opponent's playing aggro.
Note that the art is unacceptable because it contains a modern city. I am so ashamed.

Big-Ass Demon isn't a card. It is an example of what not to do with portend.

Original Art - Liquify
Original Art - Tie to Infinity
Original Art - Big-Ass Demon

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Card of the Day - Mossmurkel

The largest creature in magic should be vanilla. Why? It's so damn big it doesn't fool around with stupid things like abilities.

The extended art is something I've done with all the vanillas in my set. I kinda like the look of it, but my some of my friends say they it is wonky (they didn't use that exact expression).

Once again, I shamelessly plundered the name from the art.

Original Art

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Card of the Day - Drakyn

Looks like the mechanic poll is really heating up. And by "heating up" I mean "two more people voted". What's interesting to me is the frequency with which votes change. I was about to write about how it was a five-way tie but I decided to check to make sure and there is again a clear leader. Of course, a single vote has the capacity to completely change the outcome of this poll, so we won't know until the final day which mechanic will claim victory. Isn't it exciting?

Drakyn used to be a 3/1 for [1][R] that couldn't block. He changed to his current form after I decided that I needed more instances of fervor. Cards with fervor often appear to be much better than they actually are and that amuses me.

And yeah, I did kinda take the name from the art. Names are hard!

Original Art

Land Friday

I am unreasonably proud of this cycle of lands (yes, it is a cycle). They do so much, but the text says so little.
You could have it come into play tapped.
You could (in effect) tap a land to play it.
You could let it die, getting 1 mana before it goes.
Also, since it is both an Island and a Swamp, it opens up all the possibilities that having a land type entails.

If you haven't heard the news about Magic 2010, I suggest you check it out. Here is an excerpt:

"There has been some speculation as to which set of existing dual lands will be in the next core set, and the answer may surprise: none of them. We wanted to make a cycle of powerful dual lands that risk-averse newer players would like, which meant coming up with something that didn't involve losing life. Sorry, painlands, fetchlands, and Ravnica duals. Trust me, the new ones are awesome!"

I hope that the new lands are something like this. I don't believe it is quite as useful as the painlands or Ravnica duals, but if printed (at uncommon) it would certainly be a lot cheaper. And I'm not talking about mana cost or power level. I'm talking about dollars or, ideally, cents.
It is unlikely that the new lands will be like Shardcrown Fortress, but stranger things have happened before and Wizards is in the habit of stealing my ideas. We'll see.

NOTA BENE: Wizards of the Coast is actually incapable of "stealing" my card ideas as I have no copyright for them and no intention of getting one. Anybody and everybody is free to use the cards I have posted here (or the mechanics/ideas behind them) for whatever purpose they please although if they intend to use any card on this site for commercial purposes, they should to talk to the artist first. Links to the original art (and, from there, the artist's DeviantArt account) are very conveniently located at the bottom of any post that involves fake cards. Hey, look! There's one right down there!

Original Art

What is a Grell?

I took the name Grell from the Dungeons and Dragons monster (a floating brain with beak and tentacles) but over time I have come to associate it so much with myself that to see it in its original use shocks me. Regardless of this shift in attitude, I recently made up my mind to find an image of a grell to post on this blog. It was much trickier than I expected. The google search I initiated returned only unsatisfactory images. So I went to DeviantArt. THAT was interesting.

It seems that I share my name not only with a D&D aberration, a comic book artist, a former labor party politician, and a cricketer, but also with a...

How to describe him?

I'll let Wikipedia do it.

"Grell Sutcliff (グレル・サトクリフ ,Gureru Satokurifu?) is a flamboyant, cross-dressing, and homosexual shinigami who works as Angelina Durless's butler. He is initially portrayed as worthless and is often seen in the anime adaption trying to commit suicide after mishandling tasks. Eventually, Angelina put him under Sebastian's care, so he could learn to be a better butler. After this, he becomes infatuated with Sebastian. As a shinigami, he is characterized with red hair and shark-like teeth. Grell often refers to himself as a female and verbalizes his infatuation with Sebastian, much to the latter's disgust. He met Angelina while she was murdering a former patient. Although he was to remain neutral without killing for enjoyment, Grell and Angelina forged a partnership and continued the murders. They were known as "Jack the Ripper" thereafter. Grell's shinigami scythe is illegally modified to look and function like a chainsaw. When cutting someone with his Scythe, their past memories are played out like a video reel; this is referred to as "Phantasmagoria Theater". In the end, Sebastian almost kills Grell with the Grim Reapers' own scythe, but Sebastian is stopped by William Spears. William beats Grell and takes him back to headquarters. Grell has not appeared afterward. However, he has made a reappearance in the anime adaption, where his role is lengthened through missions William has assigned him to investigate. He is and his scythe is confiscated. Grell has to rely on scissors which are able to cut through anything. He is able to be easily manipulated with promises of "alone time" with Sebastian."

(From the Wikipedia article on a list of Kuroshitsuji characters)

Grell Sutcliff is a cross-dressing, gay demon butler with suicidal tendencies who wields a chainsaw that is actually an illegally modified scythe. He has, it seems, a great fan base on the DeviantArt. It is somewhat worrying.


I have a new post up at ubercharged.net

It has yet to cause violent controversy. I'm a little disappointed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Card of the Day - Corrupt Cadre

Another whitey.

The poll results are flooding in. And by "flooding in" I mean "three people have voted". Shockingly, two have voted for the same thing, so the winner is (given the limited amount of traffic I see here) already pretty much clear. Expect the card around Friday or Saturday.

EDIT: Uh oh. It seems that someone has changed their vote and we no longer have a clear winner. We're all mature people, of course, and can deal with this rationally. At least, that's the hope.

Original Art

Monday, March 2, 2009

Card of the Day - Aberrant Ephemeron, Scourge of the Sky, Path of Purity, Enforcer of Silence, Wall of Bliss, Nelson's Charm, and River Strider

I really shouldn't be messing around with enchantments. You can get into some deep shit with enchantments. I only did this to show you a white card.

Poor white. I am so terrible at making white cards. It's all weenies and pacifism and lifegain. I put lifelink on fucking everything. So unoriginal. All my really cool stuff ends up in blue and black, and all the powerful stuff ends up in green. Red gets the funny cards and random effects. White gets the shaft. Whenever I have cycles, I never start in white. In fact, the white card is usually just a placeholder to make the cycle complete.

White needs some lovin'.

I typically follow the design code of Wizards of the Coast (as dictated by the great Mark Rosewater) as closely as I can. But my orthodoxy falters when it comes to this sort of effect. Wizard code says that you should only make power/toughness alterers that affect your own guys. They claim that cards like Goblin King confuse newbies when they pump up their opponents' goblins as well. They say that cards like that don't work like people think they should. Fair enough. But I cannot support a universal ban. The lovely chaos introduced by Scourge of the Sky and its ilk is one of the things that makes Magic, in my mind at least, so very fun. Mad Aunties have their place, but so too do Goblin Kings.

Tapping enchantments is such a novelty. I do it far more than I should. But for the longest time, Enchantments just sat there, unmoving. You could play an enchantment and - barring any disenchant effects - you would never have to touch it again. Future Sight changed that. True, people had been technically able to tap enchantments since Odyssey, but the enchantments never did it by themselves. Enchantment tapping is a wonderful bit of design space that Wizards has yet to really tap (ahah hah) into. I'm assuming they're saving it for something special. I sure ain't.

Why yes, I can do this. And at common, too. No, I don't care much about the rules issues. Thank you for your concern. Oh, and did I mention that this sucka' used to be a Crocodile? Yep, Crocodiles were a B/W race that worked on the principle of reverse tribal. Instead of making Crocodiles better, they just made everything else worse. Sadly, they suffered the same fate as the Rana - death by lack of art.

Why does the art have nothing to do with the card? Because it's beautiful, that's why. Quite charming, really.

You will never see most of my favorite mechanics. Merciful, Doublethink, Meld, Scatter, Hive, Twitch, Sunder, Staunch, Flickering, Smite, Oblation, Reclaim, Choler, Scour, Preview, Seek, and Renew will all (with perhaps a few exceptions) remain locked away. Some are unnecessarily wordy (Doublethink, Smite) or complicated (Meld, Sunder). Some I'm just not happy with and only keep around for sentimental reasons (Oblation, Scour). Some are not worth a keyword (Twitch, Hive, Scatter). Choler was my favorite until Shadowmoor came out with the untap symbol that did the exact same thing, only better. The rest are just sitting on cards that I don't like that don't have art.
What does this have to do with bliss-baby here? Wall of Bliss is from a set called Rigor. Rigor is a super-small set (<90 cards) that doesn't bother with foolish things like art or legitimate card names. It has a lower power level than my other sets and works with the Rhystic mechanic. Or rather, tries to make it work. Cotton Wall, the basis for Wall of Bliss, is only a 0/4 and doesn't have any of this "art" nonsense. I just slapped the extra toughness and pretty image on it so you'd be impressed. Sorry.

What the hell, dude. This was white's time to shine. What the hell.

Original Art - Aberrant Ephemeron
Original Art - Scourge of the Sky
Original Art - Path of Purity
Original Art - Enforcer of Silence
Original Art - Wall of Bliss
Original Art - Nelson's Charm
Original Art - River Strider

Yes, the ephemeron's art is by that Izzy. Doesn't it feel so legitimate?