Thursday, April 30, 2009

[Pirate Week] Card of the Day - Shadrcrown Idealism

No, this is not a Tribal Sorcery - Pirate. Tribal only matters when tribal matters. Wait 'till the next Onslaught or Lorwyn rolls around.

I am particularly fond of this card.

Original Art

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

[Pirate Week] Boy Will They be Sorry

New Rocket Quest. Team Rocket aren't pirates, but they're pretty close, right? Bear with me. I've changed the organization a little by splitting part one in two. Tower of Terror is now part three and it's also now complete.

3.5 - Boy Will They be Sorry

[Pirate Week] Card of the Day - Shardcrown Intimidator

Land hate is really obnoxious. Cards that hate on lands are typically either pathetic or soul-crushing. There really is very little middle ground. With any luck, the Intimidator occupies it.

Original Art

Monday, April 27, 2009

[Pirate Week] Too Old to Lie

New Rocket Quest. It has nothing at all to do with pirates. It does, however, contain the phrase "tower of terror", thus fulfilling the prophecy. This is exactly like when Mass of Ghouls was reprinted in Tenth, except it has nothing at all to do with Magic.

2.4 - Too Old to Lie

[Pirate Week] Card of the Day - Shardcrown Bosun

Ahoy, and welcome to the second theme week here on Ancient Byzantine Wisdom. Since the first week dealt with lands, this one is going to deal with the exact opposite - pirates. See, pirates hate the land. It stands to reason.

Look at that. Look at all that hate. And all those tentacles. They are unrelated to the land hate, but he probably hates them too. He's got a lot of hate to spread around even if it is mostly directed at lands.

Original Art

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Outside View

If you're interested at all in card design, you should read what Mark Rosewater has to say. As Magic Head Designer, he knows what he's talking about. My ideas on card design are almost entirely gleaned from Rosewater's writing.

His latest article is a particularly good one. He talks about various cards and just dispenses design wisdom and it's all grand. I'd like to talk about two of these cards that have me (somewhat) on the defensive now.

Finest Hour
I was all prepared to rip this card a new one with color critique. Now I'm glad I waited. Looking at this card, I had lost the trees for forest. I was so focused on the fact that it was so similar to Relentless Assault that I didn't look at the component parts. While I still don't entirely agree with the color scheme, I understand the reasoning behind it better now. The really important thing that this reinforces is that a team of designers is better than any of those designers on his/her own.

Intimidation Bolt
I am an amateur designer, and I am keen to stress form over flavor. But I do this because I am an amateur designer. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of people making fake magic cards. There are a lot of fantastic ideas out there. And there are also a lot of terrible-looking cards. These cards look bad because their creators use strange phrases in jumbled text-boxes and hold on so hard to their flavorful ideas that they refuse to let them go when they can't find the right wordings. Many cards end up looking like something from the early days of Magic - a wonderful idea hidden behind a confusing mass of ugly text. That's why I feel the form of a fake card is so important. In almost all cases, the flavor is already there.

Card of the Day - Brood Hydra

Now that Alara Reborn is finally (pre)released, I don't feel the need to show only multicolor cards any more (or to color critique every card I show). This is the last one. Starting tomorrow, there'll be a new theme week. It will be just like Land Week except without any land.

Power/toughness tied to number of something - All colors. Frequently tied to that something's main color. For hydras, that's red (although green is secondary).
Token generation - All colors. Most common in green, then white, then black and red (about even), then blue.
Card drawing - Blue, then green.
Sacrificing things to draw cards - All colors, but particularly green/blue/black.

Brood Hydra should probably just be green, but blue is excusable.

Original Art

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Color Critique - Thraximundar

All right. It's the moment we've all been waiting for. The moment in which I complain about cards. Yeah! I've invited my pal Thraximundar along for the occasion.

Haste - Red. Secondary in green. Rarely black.
Making your opponent(s) sacrifice things - Black. Sometimes red.
Getting bigger when creatures die - Red, black, green.

Nothing about Thraximundar makes him blue. Not even his creature types. He should be black/red. If you absolutely need a third color for him, it should be green.

Thraximundar bugs me more than poorly-colored cards usually do. This is because he is so obviously a Jund card. Making your opponent sacrifice creatures is more of a Grixis ability, true, but caring about when anybody sacrifices creatures is so Jund it hurts (NOTA BENE: All Jund things hurt. It's one of their identifying features).

This is how Thraximundar should have looked:

Oh, and I also changed his creature type. A 6/6 (or bigger) creature that charges headlong into combat has no business calling itself an assassin. His story is that he's Malfegor's head general or some such nonsense. That being so, he should really be a warrior or soldier or something. I made him a rogue because if he was a warrior his creature type text would be too close to his set symbol and it would look bad.

Speaking of the set symbol...

That's how ya make it. Use the points tool to get the hand + thumb the way you want it then do the same for a finger (you'll need to create a new rectangle first). Once you have the first finger done, you can use the duplicator to get three more the same shape and facing the same direction. Just resize them and you're golden.

Card of the Day - Spitewind Efreet

Thought I'd try my hand at one of these fancy new multicolor/hybrid combinations. The deal with these is that they should work as a multicolor card of either of the two possible color combinations. This means that Spitewind Efreet should be printable as either a white/blue card or a blue/black card.

Flying - Blue then white then black. Red for dragons and phoenixes and such like. Almost never green.
Untap - Blue. Sometimes green.
Remove from combat - Red and white.
Untap and remove from combat - White.

All right. The white/blue version of this card is obvious. But what reason could it have for being black?

Regeneration (The next time this creature would be destroyed this turn, it isn't. Instead tap it, remove all damage from it, and remove it from combat) - Black and green.

The efreet's ability functions as a sort of pseudo-regeneration. This allows it to be black.

Original Art

Friday, April 24, 2009

Land Friday

Alara Reborn is up on gatherer. The full set (with card images and everything). Enjoy.

Sadly, I won't be able to attend the prerelease. I wish luck to all those who can go. And remember to play Jund. All other shards are WEAK AND PUNY. What happens when a plane of predators collides with four planes of prey? Jund wins is what happens. You can keep your fancy necromancy, your sigils, your behemoths, and your etherium because every single living thing on Jund is going to kill you and eat you. Thanks to Grixis, a lot of the dead things will too.

Those who forget their past are doomed to be eaten by it.

God I love Jund.

Origianl Art

Card of the Day - Mysticism's End

Artifact destruction - Red and green
Enchantment destruction - Green and white
Mass artifact destruction - Red and white. Rarely green.
Mass enchantment destruction - White. Rarely green.

Mysticism's End should be white. It can get by without red and green, but it's probably better to include at least one of them. Including both is fine.

Originally I had this card in Bant, not Naya. Instead of destroying all artifacts and enchantments, it worked as a kind of mass Deglamer. I kept fiddling with it, trying to find ways to make it fit all colors. Eventually I just ran it through the color critique shown above and realized that I had it all wrong. I was trying to force a Purify into a color it didn't belong in.

Those poor Esperites.

Original Art

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Card of the Day - Vesuvan Leech

Flash - Green or blue
Self-sacrifice - Red or black. Blue when it involves attacking or blocking.
Self-duplication - Green or blue.

The leech is solidly green/blue. It could even be a hybrid.

Original Art

Psychopaths and Cannibals

Two new Rocket Quest entries.

2.2 - Psychopaths and Cannibals
2.3 - Even From Earthquakes

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Dire Task Indeed

New Rocket Quest. Part Two has begun, and already I have named it "Tower of Terror." This is a noteworthy break from my tradition of drawing the titles of Rocket Quest things from their content. OR NOT! The phrase "Tower of Terror" has not yet appeared in any Rocket Quest entry, but it will! Before the end of Part Two! It's like Future Sight except it's for Rocket Quest and there aren't any Tarmogoyfs.

This is too exciting for words. Unfortunately, words are pretty much all I have.

20 (or, alternatively, 2.1) - A Dire Task Indeed

Card of the Day - Spirit of Nature

EDIT: Aaaaah fuck. This card was originally called Force of Nature. Unfortunately, as Nameless One pointed out in the comments, this name is taken. I should probably check that sort of thing myself. This is pretty disappointing. I was really pleased with the name and I made all sorts allusions to the Scout from Team Fortress 2 (who is also a force of nature). This new name is a placeholder, and it sucks.

EDIT: This is what I originally had for when the card was a Force instead of a Spirit. I like it better than any new stuff I was able to think up, so I'm keeping it, even if it isn't entirely true any more.

Is anybody keeping track of his heads batted in? They should be.

Flying - Blue then white then black. Red for dragons and shit.
Trample - Green. Secondary in red.
Haste - Red. Secondary in green. Rarely black.
Bein' basically kinda a big deal - Red or blu.

The Force of Nature is fairly simple to place, color-wise. Red is mandatory and green is practically a given. He needs an extra color for flying but any of the three remaining could work for that. I initially chose blue, but I shifted it to white so he would fit in one of the shards. It's worth noting that if the Force of Nature was a dragon, he would only need one color - red.

I never considered turning him into a dragon, but the urge to make him a scout is almost overpowering. I mean, come on! He's a friggin' blur! He's running circles around you!

On an unrelated note, the full Alara Reborn Spoiler is up.

Original Art


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Refreshed and Slightly Bloated

At the beginning of time, God created a thousand Rocket Questions, but only one hundred Rocket Answers. Here are six of them:

14 - Refreshed and Slightly Bloated
15 - Astoundingly Stupid
16 - A Cafe Mocha, a Beret, and a Shitload of Angst
17 - The Meaning of Quick Attack
18 - Love You Too
19 - It'll Come out His Mouth

Let me say that again without trying to be clever.

Six new Rocket Quest entries. These are the final six entries in what I'm tentatively calling "Part One - I Don't Have Any Pokemon." Here's the full list of entries:

1 - Hookers and Ether
2 - That'll be Totally Awesome
3 - Stay Cool
4 - I'm a Fucking Pidgeot
5 - Something Special
6 - Strange Men
7 - Crying for Mommy
8 - Fucking Worthless
9 - Shit! Cops!
10 - Bombarded with Owls
11 - Cherrygrove Slang
12 - Play God
13 - Crime Time
14 - Refreshed and Slightly Bloated
15 - Astoundingly Stupid
16 - A Cafe Mocha, a Beret, and a Shitload of Angst
17 - The Meaning of Quick Attack
18 - Love You Too
19 - It'll Come out His Mouth

I definitely needed that many links. One would not have been enough.

Card of the Day - Shadowcloak Stalker, Frigid Rebuttal, and Clear Away

There's a card an awful lot like this in Alara Reborn, it seems, only it isn't an elf, it costs one [U] more, and it has flying. Oh, and it doesn't have quicken. I can't really claim Wizards copied me on this one because I made it after I had seen their card, but I'm going to anyway.

I'll get you for this, Wizards, you no-good thieving rat-fink bastards!

The five cards with quicken I've shown you up to this point have been a cycle, of sorts. However it might be more accurate to call them a four-card cycle and a blue card that hangs out with the others on occasion. See, the others are just normal cards going about their business that just so happen to have quicken. Frigid Rebuttal has quicken and knows it. And it bases its ability off this knowledge. It breaks the fourth wall, if you will.

That is actually a completely inappropriate phrase for the occasion.

Regardless, quicken is more than a neat gimmic with Frigid Rebuttal; it is an integral part of the card.

Clear Away doesn't have quicken, but it chills with cards that do. I wonder why the hunter from Left 4 Dead is in its art, but only a little. He's not hurting anybody. Is it a crime to wear a hoodie and feast on the uninfected? I don't think so.

P.S. It has come to my attention that I am not consistent with the names of Card of the Day posts that showcase three or more cards. Sometimes I include the word "and"; sometimes I do not. This is a very tragic situation. Please join me in weeping.
P.P.S. I would again like to point out that I do not own any of the cards I create, so they are impossible to steal.

Original Art - Shadowcloak Stalker
Original Art - Frigid Rebuttal
Original Art - Clear Away

Monday, April 20, 2009

Card of the Day - Remember Agony, Incite Fury, Whitetower's Call

Quicken, if not my absolute favorite among keywords I've designed, is certainly in the upper echelons (I think fervor probably takes home the gold). Like cycling, it's fairly simple and it doesn't really have that much impact on the rest of the card (for most cards). However, also like cycling, it causes you to think about, and possibly play, the card differently.

Here's how it works, basically. You play a spell with quicken just like you would any other spell. You pay all necessary costs of the spell and it goes on the stack. From that point on until the spell with quicken resolves, it's as if all spells have flash. Since any spells played during this time go on the stack on top of quicken, they resolve first. Note that players may only play spells as though they have flash during this time. Quicken has no effect on abilities, so it doesn't let you sacrifice your Bloodpyre Elemental.

One of my favorite things about quicken is that it's a different ability depending on which type of card it's on. On sorceries, it's a minor drawback, allowing your opponent to respond to the card with spells they wouldn't normally be able to play during your turn. In Remember Agony's case, this might mean that they get rid of a card that they absolutely don't want to lose. Of course, your opponent is unlikely to hold on to their spells just on the off chance that you play a quicken card. That's why quicken would have been a good thing to have in Prophecy or better yet a full rhystic block, but with rhystic done right (yes, that is possible). With players leaving lands untapped to pay for rhystic spells and to power up reverse Scoria Cats, quicken would be much more of a drawback on sorceries, and could allow for both more interesting and more powerful cards.

On instants, quicken is an advantage. Cheap instants with quicken act like more versatile variants of the namesake spell but with different side-effects.

The most fascinating things you can do with quicken aren't actually on the quickening cards themselves. Given an abundance of quickening cards at common, you can create sorceries that have different effects when it's not your turn. You can do seemingly nonsensical things like giving a creature the ability "When CARDNAME comes into play, counter target spell." In a quicken-free format this is useless, barring some Elvish Piper action. Ideally, you could use that creature to counter your opponent's Incite Fury or have it ride on the back of a Whitetower's Call to do some instant-speed countering. Of course, when you're messing around with quicken, everything's instant speed.

P.S. Remember Temporal Adept? He's all about quicken.
P.P.S. I really dislike Incite Fury's name. Not a huge fan of the art, either.
P.P.P.S. Whitetower's Call used to be called Idle, but it seemed a shame to waste such an elegant name.

Original Art - Remember Agony
Original Art - Incite Fury
Original Art - Whitetower's Call

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cherrygrove Slang

This weekend contained some flying in planes (for me, at least). Do you know what that means? It means more Rocket Quest.

Three new entries:
11 - Cherrygrove Slang
12 - Play God
13 - Crime Time

Card of the Day - Thundercloud Hawk

The brief but bountiful break behind us, we're back in business and boy are we Byzantine.

Flash - Blue/green. Rarely white.
Flying - Blue, then white, then black. Red for dragons and such like.
Haste - Red. Secondary in green. Rarely black.
Sacrifice at a certain time - Red. Rarely black. Sacrificing when it attacks or blocks is blue.

Thundercloud Hawk could be justified as green/blue or even black/green. Without haste, it could be mono-blue. But its current form works best in blue and red.

I'm particularly pleased with this card. Combining flash with spark elemental-ness lets you do some nifty stuff. I also feel an irrational attachment to "end of phase" effects.

Original Art

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Land Friday

Gettin' this out of the way before I go so's I don't forget.

Original Art

Card of the Day - Warden Mage

IMPORTANT ANCIENT BYZANTINE WISDOM NEWS: I am going on a college visit, starting tomorrow, and will not have access to my computer. Don't expect any more cards until Saturday or Sunday.

Exalted - Supposedly any Bant color, although I don't really see how it fits in blue.
Limit on attacking - White. Sometimes. Appears on artifacts.
Limit on blocking - Red and green. Sometimes white.

Warden Mage should be green/white. Blue is justifiable, but you should probably leave it off unless you really have to include it.

Original Art

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Card of the Day - Canyon Drake

Since Alara Reborn is imminent, I need to warm up my color-critique skills so I can properly gripe about it. I'll go through the abilities, linking them to the colors they fit:

Colorlessness - Red or black/red
Flying - Blue, white, black. Can be red on drakes/dragons. Not green.
Trample - Primary in green. Secondary in red.

Canyon Drake has to be red, because of its colorlessness (ironic, eh?). Since it's constant, not activated, that calls for black. Flying, much more common in black than red, moves him even further in that direction. Trample suggests green, but doesn't require it.

Canyon Drake should be black/red. Green is optional (and preferred).

Original Art

Monday, April 13, 2009

Alara Re-BURN

Official Alara Reborn previews have begun. Unless I can come up with really clever Alara-esque multicolor cards, Card of the Day will be discontinued out of shame for the next two weeks. As I've (probably) said before, fake cards can never compare to the real deal.

The title of this post is completely irrelevant. I just wanted to get it out of my system. Hopefully someone will be able to use better than I.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Land Friday

Took me this long to realize that I'd forgotten all about Land Friday for two weeks in a row. Please forgive this terrible oversight and have a happy Easter (if doing so suits you).

Card of the Day - Summon the Swarm

Why yes, this does let people get three insects for two mana. I guess you shouldn't have tapped out.

EDIT: Used this art again. Whoops.

Original Art

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Land Friday

The long-awaited cycle-finisher. It's only a week or so late.

Original Art

Card of the Day - Hive Mind

Oh, insect creatures. Always up to your tricks.

Original Art

Friday, April 10, 2009

Card of the Day - Sanctum Warden

Nothing too exciting here. Just an uncommon that compares unfavorably to Loxodon Mystic. But wait! Look at that first word in the second line. In a two-player game, that won't mean a whole lot. But it is certainly interesting in multiplayer. You'd probably be better off with Ghostly Prison, but I won't judge.

While I would love to take credit for intentionally using this exciting and text-efficient gimmic (three letters give it new meaning in multiplayer), I really can't. Here's the original Sanctum Warden:

Look at that. Almost the same card, but so disgusting. That mana symbol sitting on a line all by itself drove me up the wall. It just looks terrible. So I started fiddling around with ways I could make the text longer or shorter and eventually I settled on "you".

Original Art


Homestuck starts today. This would be a good time to start reading, for if the update schedule is anything like Problem Sleuth's was the archives are going to get very large very soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Card of the Day - Blistermage

Back in his day, people had to tap four lands two times each to get just one lousy mana. Uphill. Both ways. In the snow.

Winter was colder back then.

Original Art

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Card of the Day - Hungry Horror

So... so powerful. Four power! I hope I don't get eaten.

He is monstrously hungry.

Original Art

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Card of the Day - Deepcavern Squid

I know that normally I spend two days on each of the winning keywords, but I really dislike smite. So, instead, squid!

Look at it go.

Original Art

Monday, April 6, 2009

Card of the Day - Forced Tranquility and Blood Shade

Smite sucks. It's wordy, clumsy, far too focused, and extremely top-down. It should not be a keyword. At best, it should be an interesting ability that shows up on one uncommon or rare.

It also is very white-centric. Nonwhite cards with smite just don't seem right. What is a Blood Shade doing smiting things anyway? That's not his job.

Original Art - Forced Tranquility
Original Art - Blood Shade

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bombarded with Owls

New Rocket Quest

Also, IMPORTANT ANCIENT BYZANTINE WISDOM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Card of the Day Team (Grell) is taking a break. Card of the Day will return with the winner of the mechanic poll. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Card of the Day - Deepwood Cultist

Something to do with all those tokens you've been making. You have been making tokens, right?

I can understand if you haven't. Now that the Alara Reborn spoilers have begun (albeit not officially), fake cards just can't compare. In fact, I'm thinking of temporarily suspending the Card of the Day feature until after the Prerelease (the 26th). Or maybe I'll just make multicolor cards, in honor of a possibly all-multicolor set.

Original Art

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Card of the Day - Arcanis the Impotent

Poor guy. I just couldn't think up any flavor text that would do him justice.