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Who will be the first three to go?

The Great Designer Search Episode 2 – “Gimme Five”

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The letter W!elcome to our second episode where we get to see our applicants tackle their first design challenge and get to see all the judges (save myself) review their work. I will give my two cents on each finalist's work at the beginning of next week's episode when I eliminate three of them.

Before we get to today's challenge, I want to tell you about a few new resources to follow The Great Designer Search. For starters we now have a home page explaining what's going on and listing all the articles so far. (Click here.) In addition, all fifteen applicants now have their own pages complete with all ten essay questions and their multiple choice test scores, complete with which questions they got wrong. You can get to those pages by clicking on any of the avatars at the top of the Great Designer Search home page. Feel free to check them out, there's a lot to read!

One last note before we get going: starting next week we'll be running these articles on Fridays instead of Thursdays. There's so much work that goes into these that we all could use the extra day to get everything right, so remember to check back a day later starting next week.

Design Challenge #1 – “Gimme Five”

So what exactly were the finalists asked to do? Here's the letter I sent them:

Applicants,

Welcome to the first Design Challenge – “Gimme Five”. This week we'll be exploring a design staple, the five-card cycle. Your assignment is to create three five-card cycles. Nice and simple. Okay, it's not quite that simple. For starters, I have a few rules for you about the cycles:

  1. Each of the cycles has to be designed for a different rarity (common, uncommon and rare). Each cycle must meet the needs of its rarity. (I'll explain these below.)
  2. At least one of the cycles has to be a tight cycle. At least one has to be a loose cycle. (I'll also define these terms below.)
  3. Each cycle has to be all the same card type. No mixing and matching. Not even instants and sorceries.
  4. The card types for each cycle will be randomly assigned to you. This is listed below. Note that every player gets to make a cycle of creatures and enchantments. No one was given a cycle of lands.
  5. No effect may be repeated. If, for example, you use a discard effect on a common black card, you may not use a discard effect on either the uncommon or rare black cards. You can't even use it on cards of another color. Each of the fifteen cards has to use a different type of effect.
  6. Each cycle must be accompanied by a paragraph of no more than fifty words explaining what you were up to. This means you will be writing three paragraphs.

I will now define my terms. Here is what each rarity demands of its cycle:

Common: First and foremost this cycle must be simple. This means that it doesn't require too much text and is easily graspable when you first see it. The cards must also be relevant for Limited without being too swingy.

Uncommon: These cards can be slightly more complicated than the common cards, but still not that much more complex. The cards should be meaningful for limited. Unlike commons, it is fine if they are a little more on the swingy side. These cards should be desirable for budget players who treat them much as other players would treat rares.

Rare: Rare cycles exist to sell sets. We don't waste five rare slots unless we feel it's worth it. This means that the rare cycle should be splashy and exciting. They are allowed to be irrelevant to Limited so it's okay if they're bombs.

Here is what tight and loose means:

Tight Cycle: For purposes of this test, a tight cycle is a cycle that matches in mana cost (with the exception of the swap of what colored mana is used) as well as at least one other quality of the card (activation cost, power/toughness, keyword, repeated template, etc.) Card type does not count as this second quality.

Loose Cycle: For purposes of this test, a loose cycle is a cycle in which the mana costs are not the same between the cards (aka they do not all have the same mana cost minus the color switch) and match no more than one quality (see above). Once again, matching in card type does not count as a matching quality.

Finally, here are your assignments. They were assigned at random:

Conrad Corbett - Common: Instant Uncommon: Enchantment Rare: Creature
Andrew Emmott - Common: Creature Uncommon: Enchantment Rare: Instant
Mark Globus - Common: Sorcery Uncommon: Enchantment Rare: Creature
Graeme Hopkins - Common: Creature Uncommon: Instant Rare: Enchantment
Christopher Jablonski - Common: Creature Uncommon: Artifact Rare: Enchantment
Alexis Janson - Common: Creature Uncommon: Enchantment Rare: Artifact
Greg Krajenta - Common: Instant Uncommon: Creature Rare: Enchantment
Chris Luhrs - Common: Enchantment Uncommon: Creature Rare: Artifact
Kenneth Nagle - Common: Sorcery Uncommon: Creature Rare: Enchantment
Andrew Probasco - Common: Enchantment Uncommon: Sorcery Rare: Creature
Ryan Sutherland - Common: Enchantment Uncommon: Artifact Rare: Creature
Scott Van Essen - Common: Enchantment Uncommon: Creature Rare: Instant
Noah Weil - Common: Creature Uncommon: Enchantment Rare: Sorcery
Aaron Weiner - Common: Creature Uncommon: Sorcery Rare: Enchantment
Landon Winkler - Common: Enchantment Uncommon: Creature Rare: Sorcery

Lastly, let me stress what we are looking for: (note that these qualities are not listed in any order of preference)

  • Craftsmanship – This is the ability to figure out how to execute and combine mechanics.
  • Innovation / Originality – This is the ability to reach into areas that have not been fully explored before. Do not submit cards that already exist in Magic unless you have a really good reason.
  • Elegance / Aesthetics – This is the ability to find ways to make the mechanics as simple, direct and easy to grasp as possible.
  • Presentation – This is the ability to maximize how cards will be perceived by the players.
  • Flavor – This is the ability to add layers to the card through making the mechanics convey a whole larger than the parts.
  • Synergy – This is the ability to find ways to have the different parts of a card be relevant with one another. This also applies to finding ways to make cards work well together.
  • Understanding of the Color Pie – This is the ability to show that you understand where mechanics fall in the color pie. (Hint: Don't rely a lot on Time Spiral.)
  • Understanding of Rarity – This is the ability to make cards appropriate for each rarity.
  • Understanding of Power Level – While designers are not the ones responsible for setting power level, a certain amount of understanding is important to keep from wasting design time.
  • Overall Design Quality – This is the ability to take all the abilities listed above and find ways to work them together in the card designs.

In short, we are looking at everything that makes a design good. Please take all criticisms to heart as the judges are the people who are grading you. Technically, I am making the final decision but I very much listen to what Aaron, Devin and Gleemax (yes even Gleemax) have to say.

Good luck,

Mark Rosewater

For this challenge, each designer had to create three cycles, one for each rarity. Let's see how they did. Each entry will be followed by comments by Aaron (in red), Devin (in blue) and Gleemax (in lovely plum). Remember that you won't see my comments until next week when I eliminate the first three candidates.


CONRAD CORBETT

Canto of Setia (common)
1W
Instant
Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to each creature you control this turn.
Draw a card

Canto of Seayor (common)
1U
Instant
Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order.
Draw a card.

Canto of Cremlor (common)
1B
Instant
Target land becomes a swamp until end of turn.
Draw a card.

Canto of Ryxar (common)
1R
Instant
Creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn
Draw a card.

Canto of Llanwa (common)
1G
Instant
Gain 1 life for each creature you control.
Draw a card.

I wanted to show that I could build worlds too. The commons are all designed to put tension between "burn early for card" and "cast late for effect". The black one is the exception; it wants swampwalk. It can be potent later (finisher), or early, locking out a splash color.

Hall of Hope (uncommon)x 2WW
Enchantment
As Hall of Hope comes into play, choose a color.
Creatures you control gain protection from the chosen color.

Library of Lore (uncommon)
2UU
Enchantment
Remove 2 creature cards in your graveyard from the game: Return target instant from your graveyard to your hand.

Chapel of Corruption (uncommon)
2BB
Enchantment
1B, Sacrifice a creature: Return target creature from your graveyard to play. Play this ability only when you can play a sorcery.

Parapet of Power (uncommon)
4R
Enchantment
Whenever you play a creature spell, do 2 damage to target creature or player.

Thicket of Thews (uncommon)
2G
Enchantment
Whenever a creature comes into play under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

The gods gain their power from believers. The cards echo this. I tried to emphasize "White Protect, Blue Learn, Black Corrupt, Red Hurt, Green Cooperate" here, helping set the tone for the set. I also tried to make these solid budget cards, while still relevant in limited.

Setia, Defender of Hope (rare)
9W
Legendary Creature – Avatar Angel
4/10
If your life total is less than 10, Setia, Defender of Hope costs 1 less for each point below ten your life total is.
Flying, First Strike, Vigilance
Whenever Setia, Defender of Hope deals damage, gain that much life.

Seayor, Lord of Lore (rare)
6UU
Legendary Creature – Avatar Wizard
5/5
Seayor, Lord of Learning costs 1 less for each card you have drawn this turn.
Unblockable.
At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card.

Cremlor, Heart of Corruption (rare)
6BBB
Legendary Creature – Avatar Demon
6/6
Cremlor, Heart of Corruption costs 3 less for each creature that has been put into a graveyard from play this turn.
Whenever your opponent discards a card, that player loses life equal to that card's converted mana cost.

Ryxar, Dragon of Power (rare)
4RRRR
Legendary Creature – Avatar Dragon
6/6
Ryxar, Dragon of Power costs 1 less to play for each damage that has been dealt to an opponent this turn.
First Strike, Trample, Haste.

Llanwa, Mother of All (rare)
6GGG
Legendary Creature -- Avatar Elf
7/7
Affinity for Creatures (Llanwa, Mother of All costs 1 less to play for each creature you control).
At the beginning of your upkeep, search your library for a creature card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.

These are the gods of this world, around which all societies are built. I hate expensive creatures, so I made them as Timmy/Spike cards by making them cheaper in decks that support them. The gods answer the call of those who do their will. Correct costs depend on environment.

Aaron: Hrm. Conrad's commons don't feel like a cycle to me, they feel like “some cantrips.” Granted, I imagine we have or will cycle cantrips at common, but what is trying to show me here? Uncommon… “some enchantments.” No one I know would ever be able to identify them as a cycle. The rares were pretty cool, although not without problems. I wouldn't call out “affinity” on one of them unless you wanted to do it on them all, like “affinity for damage dealt to opponents.” It's probably better to leave the word affinity off of them all and just spell out the ability long. And if they all had identical mana costs, they'd hang together better.

Devin: Last week I praised Conrad's work, but in retrospect I made a mistake by doing so. Looking back on my words, I'm not sure I why I rated him so highly at the time, but I now feel that Decree of Proper Form and Neka's Portal from that submission are definite misses, while Channel Hate is clearly almost identical to Devour in Shadow, also making it a miss. Valley of Shiv is probably too powerful to do, and is only interesting because of its overpoweredness. Lands that produce two mana and cards that turn cards into mana are both things that have burned us many times before and we're much more careful about those things now. I still like Little Spider and Really Focus from that submission a lot, but the other 4 were misses for me, and I'm really not sure why I praised the submission so much. I looked back at my old comments on all the other applicants, and they still ring true to me. I stand by them.

On to this week. The common cycles are just cantrips. Magic already has cantrips. I see that he is trying to emphasize a tension between “burn this early” or “cast for effect and card later”, but tons of Magic cantrips (Bandage, etc.) do that already too. You have to design something new. Submitting a ‘cycle' of cantrips that don't have anything to do with each other except being cantrips is a definite miss for me. The uncommon enchantments also do not seem like a true cycle. They have nothing to do with each other at all. Also a miss.

The rares are a loose cycle in that they all reduce their costs, but I feel like the individual cards have all been done before better. The whole cycle is very similar to the Prophecy Avatars, except that those are much cleaner. Setia is really similar to Avatar of Hope. Cremlor borrows from Avatar of Woe, while Ryxar is a clunkier Rorix or Akroma. I found them to be a miss. On the whole, I feel like this submission conveyed less of an understanding of what a Magic cycle is, tight or loose, than almost any of the other submissions. That is not good. Our standards go up every week as the bar gets higher. In earlier rounds, with hundreds of people left, I might have given this a 3, but at this week's standard, I have to give this one a 1 out of 10 this week.

Gleemax:

Common – Dream job on the line and the best you can do is a cycle of weak cantrips?
Uncommon – Which is a step up from uncommon where you didn't even bother making a cycle.
Rare – Leaving your best cycle of the bunch (and best is a relative term) a poor riff on affinity.
You might not need to keep next weekend clear.


ANDREW EMMOTT

Wow, this was hard!

Tjilpari Scout (common)
WW
Creature - Cat Soldier Scout
2/1
Whenever Tjilpari Scout attacks, untap all attacking creatures.

Kitefoot Scout (common)
UU
Creature - Human Wizard Scout
2/1
Whenever Kitefoot Scout attacks, all other attacking creatures gain flying until end of turn.

Scandaltooth Scout (common)
BB
Creature - Rat Rogue Scout
2/1
Whenever Scandaltooth Scout attacks, target tapped creature gets +1/-1 until end of turn.

Bloodrunner Scout (common)
RR
Creature - Orc Warrior Scout
2/1
Whenever Bloodrunner Scout attacks, creatures you control gain first strike until end of turn.

Lurin's Scout (common)
GG
Creature - Dryad Shaman Scout
2/1
Whenever Lurin's Scout attacks, you may put a land card from your hand into play.

I had several goals here:
1. Introduce the major races of the block.
2. Flavorfully explore the idea of scouting in each color.
3. Avoid redundant effects.
4. Encourage players to attack.
5. Ensure that each effect was worth risking your 1-toughness creature for, but wasn't overpowered in repetition.

Altjira's Oath (uncommon)
1WW
Enchantment
Whenever you play a non-white, non-artifact spell, creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.

Saulo's Oath (uncommon)
2UU
Enchantment
Whenever you play a non-blue, non-artifact spell, tap or untap target permanent.

Grimgnaw's Oath (uncommon)
3BB
Enchantment
Whenever you play a non-black, non-artifact spell, you lose 1 life and draw a card.

Horgan's Oath (uncommon)
4RR
Enchantment
Whenever you play a non-red, non-artifact spell, Horgan's Oath deals an amount of damage equal to that spell's converted mana cost to target creature.

Lurin's Oath (uncommon)
GG
Enchantment
Whenever you play a non-green, non-artifact spell, put a 1/1 green Insect creature token into play.

Again, my goals:
1. Enable multi-color play without forcing combinations, (Can be nice in limited).
2. Again, use the cycle to unify block flavors.
3. Again, Avoid redundant effects.
4. Again, encourage players to play and move forward.
5. Discourage simple splashes with double colored mana.

Light Rift (rare)
X1W
Instant - Rift
Search your hand, graveyard and library for up to X Rift cards and remove them from the game. For each card removed this way, remove target attacking creature from the game. Shuffle your library.

Wind Rift (rare)
X3U
Instant - Rift
Search your hand, graveyard and library for up to X Rift cards and remove them from the game. For each card removed this way, put target permanent on top of its owner's library. Shuffle your library.

Shadow Rift (rare)
XB
Instant - Rift
Search your hand, graveyard and library for up to X Rift cards and remove them from the game. For each card removed this way, creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn. Shuffle your library.

Plasma Rift (rare)
X1R
Instant - Rift
Search your hand, graveyard and library for up to X Rift cards and remove them from the game. For each card removed this way, add RRR to your mana pool.
Shuffle your library.

Force Rift (rare)
X2G
Instant - Rift
Search your hand, graveyard and library for up to X Rift cards and remove them from the game. For each card removed this way, search your library for a creature or land card and put it into your hand.
Shuffle your library.

I felt getting Instant at Rare was a difficult assignment. I wanted to make a cycle whose pieces could combine with each other, and I wanted to explore the idea of cards having some function while they are still in your library. I would have rather done this with enchantments.

Aaron: Andrew's commons are okay, similar to Smogsteed Rider from Guildpact. I don't like having “CC” creatures at common in great number, as their power is difficult to realize in sealed and draft. But the cards work fine. The uncommon Oaths do a cool thing, enabling open-ended multicolored play, but the double-mana costs bug me here as well. But that's easy to fix. The Rift rares are far too parasitic for me to like them—they tell me exactly one kind of deck to build, and that deck doesn't seem all that fun. They sure wouldn't be a sales-driver. A passing grade overall for Andrew, although I'm generally surprised at how much trouble people are having with rares. I thought rares were the easiest things to make…

Devin: Last week I called Andrew's submission okay but not great. This week, I find this one improved to pretty decent, neither among the best nor worst. On the common cycle, I liked and admired the simplicity of the scouts. I liked the goals listed on the commons, especially encouraging players to attack. These scouts seemed flavorfully scouting to me too. This much CC in the casting cost at common is a mistake. On the whole, one of the best common cycles. The uncommon cycle was good too. I liked the open-endededness. CC “to discourage simple splashes” is a mistake here too – they already force you to multicolor – they shouldn't also break your back to build a manabase or cast your spells. That is not a good place to emphasize turbo-tension. It would also be better instead of saying “Whenever you play a non-white, non-artifact spell” to say “Whenever you play a blue,black,red, or green spell.” It's the same length, and it becomes a combo with multicolored cards instead of a nombo. Recall Quirion Dryad. The execution was also good on these individual cards.

The rares fell down a lot in quality from the other two cycles. Many applicants went to the area of RFG'ing a lot of cards from your library as a cost. Listen to me: Players hate self-milling, and they will hate this. As one of many examples, look how little Arc-Slogger is worth compared to how powerful he is. And I guarantee that the judges hate it too. Just stop submitting it - everyone. The execution on these rares was not awesome either. All in all, 2 good cycles with some minor flaws, and a bad cycle makes this pretty decent. A 6 out of 10 for me.

Gleemax:

Common – Solid design but painfully unoriginal.
Uncommon – Again solid design but still not very exciting.
Rare – Finally you get original and the design stops being solid.
If you last another week, try something crazy like putting the solid design work on the same cards that are innovative.


MARK GLOBUS

Uncontainable Lightning (common)
R
Sorcery
Uncontainable Lightning deals 3 damage to target creature or player.
Revenge R (Opponents may play this card from your graveyard for its Revenge cost. Then remove it from the game.)

Uncontainable Delays (common)
1U
Sorcery
Put target creature on top of its owner's library.
Revenge 1U (Opponents may play this card from your graveyard for its Revenge cost. Then remove it from the game.)

Uncontainable Health (common)
W
Sorcery
You gain 5 life.
Revenge W (Opponents may play this card from your graveyard for its Revenge cost. Then remove it from the game.)

Uncontainable Migraines (common)
1B
Sorcery
Target player discards two cards.
Revenge B (Opponents may play this card from your graveyard for its Revenge cost. Then remove it from the game.)

Uncontainable Growth (common)
G
Sorcery
Search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.
Revenge G (Opponents may play this card from your graveyard for its Revenge cost. Then remove it from the game.)

The revenge cycle is inherently tempo based and benefits from the fact that these are sorceries in that you have a turn to use the effect before it can be used by your opponent. Additionally, it introduces interesting sideboarding decisions. This cycle could easily expand into a larger mechanic.

The Last of the Elves (uncommon)
2G
Enchantment
Non-token Elves are Legendary.
Elves get +1/+1 and cannot be targeted by opponents' spells or effects.

The Last of the Humans (uncommon)
2W
Enchantment
Non-token Humans are Legendary.
Humans get +1/+1 and first strike.

The Last of the Wizards (uncommon)
2U
Enchantment
Non-token Wizards are Legendary.
Wizards get +1/+1 and flying.

The Last of the Zombies (uncommon)
2B
Enchantment
Non-token Zombies are Legendary.
Zombies get +1/+1 and B:Regenerate.

The Horde of Goblins (uncommon)
2R
Enchantment
Whenever a non-token Goblin is put in the graveyard from play put two 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens into play.

What would it look like if Goblins overran a world? This flavorful cycle looks at how different groups would survive the onslaught, as well as uses the Legendary rule to give a feeling of these groups having been decimated, with only the strongest still alive.

Contemplative Changeling (rare)
3UU
Creature - Changeling
5/3
Defender
At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card.
Whenever Contemplative Changeling goes to your graveyard from play, you may pay 1. If you do, search your library for a non-blue Changling and put it into play.

Impulsive Changeling (rare)
3RR
Creature - Changeling
5/3
Haste
Whenever Impulsive Changeling goes to your graveyard from play, you may pay 1. If you do, search your library for a non-red Changling and put it into play.

Frightening Changeling (rare)
3BB
Creature - Changeling
5/3
Fear
Whenever Frightening Changeling goes to your graveyard from play, you may pay 1. If you do, search your library for a non-black Changling and put it into play.

Watchful Changeling (rare)
3WW
Creature - Changeling
5/3
Vigilance
Whenever Watchful Changeling goes to your graveyard from play, you may pay 1. If you do, search your library for a non-white Changling and put it into play.

Thundering Changeling (rare)
3GG
Creature - Changeling
5/3
Trample
Whenever Thundering Changeling goes to your graveyard from play, you may pay 1. If you do, search your library for a non-green Changling and put it into play.

The Changelings are a race of creatures that change emotions (or aspects) when defeated. This cycle suggests building larger decks since you always want to have another Changeling to search out, but you do not want them clogging up your hand.

Aaron: Mark's commons are based, alas, around a drawback. While reasonably interesting for Limited, I doubt anyone with access to any amount of cards would ever decide that revenge cards were right for their casual Constructed decks. Doable but not impressive. Mark's uncommon are, again, saddled with a drawback but at least the upside is something everyone would like. I don't think most players would ever choose The Last of the Elves over Elvish Champion for their decks, however, and I really don't like that the red one is different just to try to evoke something external. The rares at least are all upside, but the upside is parasitic. Why not let them search up any non-[color] creature? Open-endedness would benefit this cycle greatly. To me, Mark took a small step backwards this week.

Devin: Last week, I said “I liked Mark's submission pretty well overall, and there's a lot of creativity, but there were also a couple of holes.” This week, the submission was much worse. Argh, I hated the revenge cycle at common. Players won't like a mechanic that says my opponent gets to cast my own spells on me. It is not fun. Even worse, when the opponent doesn't have the right color, giving players G rampant growth and 1B discard 2 seems terrible. These badly designed.

On the uncommons, this was a weird “cycle” in that the fifth one is different for flavor reasons. The flavor reasons would have to be compelling to make that make sense as a cycle, and this flavor was not compelling for me. Without the flavor justification, the drawbacks don't fly here, and I did not like this cycle. I also dislike mechanics (which have often been submitted in this search) that say “Don't play 4-ofs in your deck” like these enchantments do. Occasional Bazaar of Wonders are awesome one-ofs to do, but in general, players like playing 4-ofs! Don't tell them they shouldn't.

The rare cycle mechanic does not work in Limited because they are all rare and you won't have two. In Constructed, even in a 2-color deck, the guys just never ever die if you have 8 of them in your deck. There's no way it's fun to have to kill 8 of these things in a row. He does get a point here for having “You may pay o1” to make it more interactive. 0-mana sac effects on powerful monsters is often a mistake. Kagemaro and Ghost Council play much better with a one mana activation cost than with none. With three missed cycles this week, this was a very weak submission. I have to give it a 1 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – You'll find most players like spells that are better for them than their opponent.
Uncommon – The fun of tribal without any of the fun of tribal.
Rare – Interesting concept, horrible execution.
Be glad this contest is graded based on the conglomerate work. If your fate rested on this week's challenge, I wouldn't like your chances.


GRAEME HOPKINS

Card cycles for GDS Challenge #1 - Gimme Five Graeme Hopkins

** Commons, creatures, tight cycle (the Auramages)

Blistering Auramage (common)
3R
Creature - Human Enchanter
2/2
When CARDNAME comes into play, put a charm counter on target creature. That creature gets +1/-1 and gains first strike. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Humbling Auramage (common)
3G
Creature - Human Enchanter
2/2
When CARDNAME comes into play, put a charm counter on target creature. That creature gets +1/+1 and has "this can't be the target of spells of abilities." (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Possessing Auramage (common)
3B
Creature - Human Enchanter
2/2
When CARDNAME comes into play, put a charm counter on target creature. That creature gets +1/+1 and gains "at the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life." (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Soaring Auramage (common)
3U
Creature - Human Enchanter
2/2
When CARDNAME comes into play, put a charm counter on target creature. That creature has flying and has "this creature can block only creatures with flying." (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Commanding Auramage (common)
3W
Creature - Human Enchanter
2/2
When CARDNAME comes into play, put a charm counter on target creature. That creature gets +0/+2 and gains defender. (This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

I emulated built-in mini-auras by borrowing Sensei Golden-Tail's "memory" counters. Making sure each effect had the possibility of being relevant on either your creatures or your opponent's added depth to their play options. This quality, plus the tight cycle, allowed me to explore each color's take on drawback-related abilities.

** Uncommons, instants, loose cycle (the Grasps)

Rejuvenating Grasp (uncommon)
1G
Instant
Untap up to two target creatures and/or lands.
Imbue 1G (Rather than play this, pay 1G and remove it from the game imbuing target creature you control. Whenever the imbued creature deals combat damage to a player, you may play a copy of this without paying its mana cost.)

Passionate Grasp (uncommon)
4R
Instant
Target creature deals damage equal to its power to another target creature.
Imbue 4R (Rather than play this, pay 4R and remove it from the game imbuing target creature you control. Whenever the imbued creature deals combat damage to a player, you may play a copy of this without paying its mana cost.)

Reassuring Grasp (uncommon)
W
Instant
You gain 1 life for each attacking creature.
Imbue W (Rather than play this, pay W and remove it from the game imbuing target creature you control. Whenever the imbued creature deals combat damage to a player, you may play a copy of this without paying its mana cost.)

Haunting Grasp (uncommon)
3B
Instant
Return up to two target creature cards in your graveyard to your hand.
Imbue 3B (Rather than play this, pay 3B and remove it from the game imbuing target creature you control. Whenever the imbued creature deals combat damage to a player, you may play a copy of this without paying its mana cost.)

Chilling Grasp (uncommon)
2U
Instant
Up to two target permanents don't untap during their controller's next untap steps.
Imbue 2U (Rather than play this, pay 2U and remove it from the game imbuing target creature you control. Whenever the imbued creature deals combat damage to a player, you may play a copy of this without paying its mana cost.)

My take on "equipping" creatures with a spell. The effect meeting 3 criteria was critical; 1) simple and in-color yet interesting, 2) relevant as a post-combat effect, 3) not horribly abusive as a recurring effect once/turn. I love the flavor of "imbuing" creatures to make their touch have cool abilities.

** Rares, enchantments, tight cycle (the Eyes)

Eyes of Fury (rare)
R
Enchantment
Whenever a creature you control attacks, put a calling counter on CARDNAME.
3RR, remove 5 calling counters or sacrifice CARDNAME: Put a 6/1 red fury creature token with trample and haste into play.

Eyes of the Lurker (rare)
B
Enchantment
Whenever a creature you control is put into a graveyard from play, put a calling counter on CARDNAME.
3BB, remove 5 calling counters or sacrifice CARDNAME: Put a 4/4 black lurker creature token into play. That creature token has fear and has "all nonblack creatures get -1/-1."

Eyes of the Winds (rare)
U
Enchantment
Whenever you play an instant spell, put a calling counter on CARDNAME.
3UU, remove 5 calling counters or sacrifice CARDNAME: Put a 3/3 blue winds creature token into play. That creature token is unblockable and has "spells your opponents play cost 1 more to play."

Eyes of the Savior (rare)
W
Enchantment
Whenever you gain life, put a calling counter on CARDNAME.
3WW, remove 5 calling counters or sacrifice CARDNAME: Put a 5/5 white savior creature token with flying and vigilance into play.

Eyes of the Earth (rare)
G
Enchantment
Whenever a creature comes into play under your control, put a calling counter on CARDNAME.
3GG, remove 5 calling counters or sacrifice CARDNAME: Put a 6/6 green earth creature token into play. That creature token has "creature spells you play cost 1 less to play."

As all colors have precedent for token-producing enchantments, I wanted to see how far a rare cycle could push the tokens produced. I tried to make each token "chase" enough on its own, yet tempting enough to warrant the risk and effort to go for multiples.

Aaron: I can't tell if Graeme's commons were supposed to grant their abilities to all creatures with charm counters, or if each was supposed to remember who it gave the ability to. I have a feeling it's the latter, which seems like a bad idea. Sensei Golden-Tail worked okay because he was one rare card, but a whole bunch of commons marking up stuff wouldn't be received well here. The flavor of his uncommon “imbue” cards was cool, combining haunt with traditional Auras. I like his rares—all upside—but I wonder how much simpler they could get and still be cool and have all the decisions remain. Two out of three cycles work for me.

Devin: Last week I said “A combination of innovative new areas, cool individual cards, and many cards that I could see actually putting into a set made this a winning submission for me.” Let's see how he did this week.

The Charm counter commons would play well in a computer game, but not in paper Magic. It's too confusing when I have Green and Red charm counter guy out, and my opponent has black charm counter guy out, and three other guys each have a penny on them, and none of the players can keep track of which guys have which stats and abilities. Sensei Golden-Tail, who he says inspired these, could do this because it was a single rare. He was likely the only source of random pennies on the board. But doing 5 common creatures that do this is a big mistake.

The uncommon Imbue cycle is a pretty good idea for a keyword, but the execution has some notable flaws here. A lot of the point of cards that can be played in two ways is that sometimes you do one, and sometimes you do the other. The G and W and U ones would almost never be hardcast.

I liked the rare Eyes. They would be better if tightened in focus. There doesn't need to be a sacrifice option, and it draws focus from what the card is trying to do, so it should not be there. Since the counters take some work, once the sacrifice is gone you can take the mana cost off of the activation, in some cases compensating with a higher hard cost. With no activation cost, they are cleaner and read much better. Overall, I thought this was significantly worse than his good work last week. This week I give this a 4 out of 10. I'd love to see Graeme get back to his previous higher level of quality work.

Gleemax:
Common – Perhaps you missed last week's memo: worry about memory issues (especially at common).
Uncommon – Interesting concept, poor execution.
Rare – There's something interesting buried deep inside this cycle.
Stop burying your interesting ideas in cumbersome and needless complexity. And mind your memory issues!

CHRISTOPHER JABLONSKI

Taboo Elves (common)
1G
Creature - Elf Shaman
2/2
Corrupt 1, T: Add G to your mana pool. (Put a corruption counter on an uncorrupt card in play you control as an additional cost to play this ability.)

Student of the Occult (common)
2U
Creature - Bird Wizard
2/2
Flying; Defender
Corrupt 1, T: Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. (Put a corruption counter on an uncorrupt card in play you control as an additional cost to play this ability.)

Bankrupt Preacher (common)
3B
Creature - Human Cleric
2/2
Fear
Whenever Bankrupt Preacher deals combat damage to a player, that player puts a corruption counter on an uncorrupt card in play he or she controls.

Remorseful Swordsman (common)
1W
Creature - Human Knight
2/2
First Strike
Whenever Remorseful Swordsman deals combat damage to a player, put a corruption counter on an uncorrupt card in play you control.

Darkfire Channeler (common)
2R
Creature - Dwarf Wizard
2/2
R, Corrupt 1, T: Darkfire Channeler deals one damage to target creature or player. (Pay R and put a corruption counter on an uncorrupt card in play you control as an additional cost to play this ability.)

This cycle of 2/2s represents the most basic execution of how each color reacts to a block mechanic. Players will hopefully read the cards and not think that becoming corrupted is much of a drawback. But, of course, that's how we get you. Mua ha ha.

Raptorclaw Flail (uncommon)
4
Artifact - Equipment
Whenever equipped creature attacks, Raptorclaw Flail deals 3 damage to target player.
You may pay RR rather than pay Raptorclaw Flail's mana cost or equip cost.
Equip 4

Fernfrond Boots (uncommon)
4
Artifact - Equipment
Whenever equipped creature attacks or blocks, put a 2/2 green Plant creature token into play.
You may pay GG rather than pay Fernfrond Boots's mana cost or equip cost.
Equip 4

Owlbeak Staff (uncommon)
4
Artifact - Equipment
Whenever equipped creature damages a creature, put that creature on top of its owner's library.
You may pay UU rather than pay Owlbeak Staff's mana cost or equip cost.
Equip 4

Demonfang Bracers (uncommon)
4
Artifact - Equipment
Whenever equipped creature attacks, it and target creature each get -2/-2 until end of turn.
You may pay BB rather than pay Demonfang Bracers's mana cost or equip cost.
Equip 4

Cherubfeather Cape (uncommon)
4
Artifact - Equipment
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and dealt by equipped creature. Gain one life for each damage prevented in this way.
You may pay WW rather than pay Cherubfeather Cape's mana cost or equip cost.
Equip 4

I toyed with costs of 3 and 3 here, but ironically I think they're 'sexier' this way, as it makes the color costs that much more appealing. Maybe my instincts are wrong on that. Note how the abilities don't affect power and toughness directly, but the cards remain 'red-zone.'

Half Strength (rare)
3GG
Enchantment
As long as you control another card named Half Strength, creatures you control are 5/5. (They still have their abilities.)

Half Life (rare)
4WW
Enchantment
As long as you control another card named Half Life, artifacts, creatures and lands you control are indestructible.

Half Wit (rare)
2UUU
Enchantment
As long as you control another card named Half Wit, if you would draw a card during your draw step, instead you may put cards in your hand from the top of your library until you have seven cards in your hand.

Half Mad (rare)
2BB
Enchantment
As long as you control another card named Half Mad, your opponents' maximum hand sizes are zero.

Half Off (rare)
3RRR
Enchantment
As long as you control another card named Half Off, you determine the outcome of all coin flips.

This cycle, somewhat inspired by B.F.M. (right half), features extremely strong crazy abilities, but which don't automatically win you the game.

Here are some names that didn't make it to print: Half Truth; Half Dead; Half Breed; Half Moon; Half Pint; Half Hearted; Half Time; Half the Battle; Half Nelson.

Aaron: Chris's “corrupt” mechanic explores some interesting space by limiting the number of times you can use a subset of cards based on some other factor, in this case the number of permanents you control. Pretty neat, although I question whether having random counters on all my lands every game I play is worth it, especially because most of these cards wouldn't feel overpowered were they not to have the corrupt restriction at all. His uncommons are a good use of color, and he's right that the cards feel better costing 4 instead of 3. I like the idea behind the rares, although I wouldn't make the “first half” of each card do absolutely nothing. Good ideas, less that ideal execution—sounds like someone we could work with.

Devin: Last week I wrote “I thought that Chris had very interesting ideas here, but that this submission was horribly hurt by needlessly excessive complication on over half the cards. Not among my favorites.” Let's see how he's done this time. The common corrupt cycle seems really complicated for common. Putting pennies on all my creatures? That don't affect the creatures themselves? And all my lands? That's a big bookkeeping cost that does not seem like it's paid off here by what the design contributes, which is resource management. Spike likes resource management, and this had some interesting resource management decisions, but there are much cleaner ways to give it to him. The mechanic also says “The fewer cards with this mechanic you put in your deck, the better.” I really hate that trait in a design. I really hope people stop submitting mechanics with that trait.

The uncommon cycle of equipments boil down to being able to pay a lower colored mana cost instead of a larger colorless mana cost. I feel like Granite Shard and Cranial Plating between them did this in a cleaner, more effective way. As for these individual cards, the blue has the problem where players don't know what happens when a hill giant equipped with this deals damage to a blocking grizzly bear. The answer may surprise you… These cards were not bad, but I feel like we've already printed a better version, and these did not offer enough new.

I really disliked the rares here. In Limited you almost certainly have just one, which means it's literally a blank that can't possibly ever do anything. Blanks in Magic are not fun! These are rare, so you probably won't have 4 to play in constructed either, which means there' a high chance this is a blank whenever you draw it. And the only thing worse than printing 1 blank in a set, is printing a cycle of 5 blanks. This is a bad design for a cycle. Overall, I was disappointed in this submission compared to last week, and I have to give it a 2 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – I'm not sure a mechanic that requires you to mark every permanent you have in play is a good idea. I do know common is a horrible place for it.
Uncommon – So-so execution with a mechanic that we've already done (in the artifact set no less).
Rare – Best of the bunch. Too bad you didn't follow through. (Hint: BFM was cool because it was two cards.)
You're being too clever for your own good. If you make it to next week, stop trying to impress the judges with your “out of the box” skills and start making good cards.


ALEXIS JANSEN

[COMMONS - TIGHT]

Gatherer of Gospels (common)
2W
Creature - Fox Mystic
2/1
Vigilance
When Gatherer of Gospels comes into play, gain 2 life for each creature that came into play this turn.

Apprentice Unsummoner (common)
2U
Creature - Moonfolk Mystic
1/3
When Apprentice Unsummoner comes into play, return target creature with converted mana cost X or less to its owner's hand, where X is the number of creatures that came into play this turn.

Mind Peeler (common)
2B
Creature - Zombie Mystic
1/1
When Mind Peeler comes into play, target player discards a card for each creature that came into play this turn.
B: Regenerate Mind Peeler.

Storm Collector (common)
2R
Creature - Viashino Mystic
2/2
Haste
When Storm Collector comes into play, add R to your mana pool for each creature that came into play this turn.

Locust Legionnaire (common)
2G
Creature - Insect Mystic
1/1
When Locust Legionnaire comes into play, put a 1/1 green Insect creature token into play for each creature that came into play this turn.

I wanted a mechanic that scaled in limited without being broken, or useless early. It feeds off an environment with tokens, flickering, and playable one drops. An alternate, "each other creature", could also be explored. Note that Locust Legionnaire becomes exponential in multiples and Apprentice Unsummoner is deceptively versatile.

[UNCOMMONS]

Muzzled Memory (uncommon)
WW
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant permanent
Prevent all damage that would be dealt by enchanted permanent.
Residue - WW, Remove Muzzled Memory in your graveyard from the game: Prevent all damage that would be dealt by target permanent this turn.

Twisted Tenure (uncommon)
1U
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature you control
Switch enchanted creature's power and toughness.
Residue - 1U, Remove Twisted Tenure in your graveyard from the game: Switch power and toughness of target creature you control until end of turn.

Restless Reminder (uncommon)
1B
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature you control
When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard from play, return it to play under your control.
Residue - 1B, Remove Restless Reminder in your graveyard from the game: Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

Fiery Flair (uncommon)
1R
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has "T: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player."
Residue - 1R, Remove Fiery Flair in your graveyard from the game: Fiery Flair deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

Memento of Might (uncommon)
GG
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has trample.
Residue - GG, Remove Memento of Might in your graveyard from the game: Target creature gets +2/+2 and gains trample until end of turn.

Residue, unlike flashback, works on permanents and has separate effects- I kept uncommon effects tightly related for comprehension and simplicity. Restless Reminder differs, avoiding reanimation playable from the graveyard. Twisted Tenure purposely targets your creatures to keep it blue. I'm especially proud of Muzzled Memory's tweak on a staple ability.

[RARES - LOOSE]

Humble Helm (rare)
1
Artifact - Equipment
Equipped creature loses all abilities.
Equipped creature has "1WW, Sacrifice Humble Helm: Each other creature becomes 1/1 until end of turn."
Equip 1

Clone Suit (rare)
3
Artifact - Equipment
Whenever a creature comes into play, equipped creature becomes a copy of that creature until end of turn.
Equipped creature has "1UU, Sacrifice Clone Suit: Each other creature you control becomes a copy of this creature until end of turn."
Equip 3

Executioner's Axe (rare)
2
Artifact - Equipment
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, that player sacrifices a creature.
Equipped creature has "XB, Sacrifice Executioner's Axe: Destroy each creature with converted mana cost X."
Equip 3

Flowstone Plate (rare)
2
Artifact - Equipment
Equipped creature gets +1/-1 and has first strike.
Equipped creasture has "XRR, Sacrifice Flowstone Plate: All creatures get +X/-X until end of turn." Equip 1

Crown of Lore (rare)
1
Artifact - Equipment
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card.
Equipped creature has "G, Sacrifice Crown of Lore: Put target card from your graveyard on top of your library."
Equip 2

Power bonuses were avoided to focus on mechanics. Sacrifice effects require equipping for flavor and balance. Bleeding due to block expectations (ex: Sword of Fire and Ice) could be "fixed" with colored equip costs if desired. I don't believe "loses all abilities" restricts future design any more than copy effects.

Aaron: Alexis's commons are fine—something we'd print that has good application in both Limited and casual Constructed. Her uncommons are pretty neat as well, turning the inherent disadvantage of creature Auras into a nice little benefit. As a rule, though, cards that make your opponent need to keep an eye on your graveyard make me nervous. They're kind of like on-board tricks that make you feel dumb when you forget about them, except they're not actually on-board. Granted, we do those kinds of effects anyway—like Thrill of the Hunt and Momentary Blink—so I won't hold it against the designer, I'm just interjecting a bit of how I look at things as a developer. Her rares are a good way to use color on artifacts—by still giving functionality to decks not using that color—but they fail to “wow” me in the way I'd like rare cycles to do. All-in-all very solid.

Devin: Last week I wrote “Overall, a strong submission with good set-wide ideas.” This week, I was disappointed with the commons. They are Stormish, but they suffer some big problem over Storm. First, at 3 mana it's very hard to put a lot of creatures into play on the same turn as these. Sorcery storm also says this, but if you storm for 3 copies total, you've tripled the effect, making it really worth it to make the storm triple. On these, you'd only triple the CIP effect, which is not close to tripling the value of the card. If you put a 2/1 vigilance into play and gain 2 life, or put a 2/1 vigilance into play and gain 6 life, the latter case is worth nowhere near triple the first case. This is not a good cycle.

The Uncommon residue cycle is a very good idea executed very well. A nice twist on the “How do you make auras that aren't card disadvantage?” question. Good work. The rares were ok but not great. They sort of did the same thing as the uncommons, which hurt them. They all had their sac ability affect everything on the board except the green one randomly didn't. Cycles shouldn't have one card that works really differently from all the rest. Overall, I give this a 7 out of 10, which is very good in a weak week.

Gleemax:
Common – Wow, a common mechanic that actually might be printed at common.
Uncommon – The detail work is good even if the overall idea isn't too original
Rare – The idea has some merit but some of the individual cards are a bit blah.
Good attempt, but far from great. Push the envelope a little more.


GREG KRAJENTA

Common: Instant
Uncommon: Creature
Rare: Enchantment

Exhorbitant Graveyard (R)
BBB
Enchantment
If Exhorbitant Graveyard is on the stack and a creature is put into a graveyard from play, put it into play under your control at end of turn.
At end of turn you may pay BBB. If you do, return target creature card in your graveyard to your hand.

Extravagant Aviary (R)
WWW
Enchantment
If Extravagant Aviary is on the stack and you gain life put that many white 1/1 Bird creature tokens with flying into play.
Whenever white creatures you control deal combat damage you gain that much life.

Enourmous Furnace (R)
RRR
Enchantment
If Enourmous Furnace is on the stack and a red source would deal damage to a creature or player, it deals double that damage to that creature or player instead.
If a red source would deal damage to a creature or player, it deals that damage plus 1 to that creature or player instead.

Expansive Gardens (R)
GGG
Enchantment
If Expansive Gardens is on the stack green spells and abilities cost 3 less to play.
Whenever a forest is tapped for mana add G to your mana pool.

Extensive Library (R)
UUU
Enchantment
If Extensive Library is on the stack spells and abilities have "Draw a card".
Whenever you play a spell or activated ability you may look at the top card of your library then put it on the top or bottom of your library.

The concept here is enchantments that have an effect while on the stack and are very powerful if you can respond to it with additional spells and abilities. The effect while in play should also be good enough to play even if you can't take advantage of the stack ability.

Tumbleweed Elemental (U)
1GG
Creature - Elemental
5/5
Ethereal (If damage is dealt to this creature destroy it.)
Trample.

Gossamer Veil (U)
1U
Creature - Illusion
0/6
Ethereal (If damage is dealt to this creature destroy it.)
X, U: Target creature Gossamer Veil blocks gets -X/-0 until end of turn.

Rending Wraith (U)
2BB
Creature - Spirit
4/4
Ethereal (If damage is dealt to this creature destroy it.)
Flying.
If Rending Wraith is put into a graveyard from play you lose 4 life.

Brushfire Elemental (U)
2R
Creature - Elemental
2/2
Ethereal (If damage is dealt to this creature destroy it.)
1R, T: Brushfire Elemental deals 1 damage to each creature without flying.

Dew Cryer (U)
1W
Creature - Spirit
1/4
Ethereal (If damage is dealt to this creature destroy it.)
Whenever damage is dealt to Dew Cryer you gain 4 life.

For my uncommon creatures I wanted something simple but with some depth, so I created a keyworded drawback that makes creatures very fragile and then used that to push the creatures' power and create tension in various ways.

Leapfrog (C)
U
Instant
Target creature deals its combat damage to defending player as though it weren't blocked unless it is blocked by a creature with flying.

Sudden Fright (C)
B
Instant
Target creature deals its combat damage to defending player as though it weren't blocked unless it is blocked by a black or artifact creature.

Duck Under (C)
W
Instant
Target creature deals its combat damage to defending player as though it weren't blocked unless it is blocked by a creature with power greater than 2.

Swift Dodge (C)
G
Instant
Target creature deals its combat damage to defending player as though it weren't blocked unless it is blocked by more than one creature.

Opportune Diversion (C)
R
Instant
Target creature deals its combat damage to defending player as though it weren't blocked unless defending player controls an untapped creature that could block it.

For the common cycle I wanted something specifically for Limited and I felt combat tricks were a natural choice. I came up with evasion as a common effect all colors get, but simply granting evasion normally after blockers have been declared wouldn't work. So I made it work.

Aaron: I don't like many—if any—of Greg's cards. The rares all talk about the stack, even though Mark said time and again last week to stop talking about the stack (I don't mind it once in a while on rares, but they had better be worth it). They feel like they could be done in a very similar way with comes-into-play triggers that last for the rest of the turn. The uncommons all feature a keyword that no one would want to see on their creatures, and very little hint as to why they all have all this toughness they can't really use. But the ones that bugged me the most were the commons, which he claimed were “for Limited.” Check out the card Infiltrate from Nemesis then look at Greg's cards. Maybe there's a reason why you'd want to make something unblockable after the fact as opposed to just unblockable, but that doesn't make them good, or even playable, in Limited.

Devin: Last week I said “A very solid array of cards that do some cool things and seem like they would play well. I marked almost all of them as good. A lack of new, innovative sparkle keeps this from being among the very best submissions, but this is solidly at the top of the second tier for me.” Disappointingly, this week's submission was much worse. The rare cycle forces players explicitly to use the stack, which all the judges said again and again last week should not be done. Many players don't know what the stack is, seriously, and we shouldn't force them to or tell them “This game isn't for you.” Everyone – please stop doing this! Doing things in response to a CCC card is really hard too. And build-around Johnny pieces should definitely not be CCC (e.g. RRR, BBB, GGG), because that makes it really hard to combo with anything. A big miss.

Uncommon featured “Ethereal (If damage is dealt to this creature, destroy it.)” Magic already has this mechanic: It's called “Having 1 Toughness.” 1GG Ethereal 5/5 plays almost exactly like 1GG 5/1. –X/-X effects are not enough to make this different. Magic players won't like a new keyword that is just a drawback and offers nothing new. A big miss.

On the commons, 5 different commons in a set that are all a variant of Touch of Invisibility is something we would never do – they are all way too similar to do 5. They differ from Touch of Invisibility by being hard to read and comprehend. A big miss. Three big misses means I have to give this a 1 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – You managed to find the overlap between confusing and unexciting.
Uncommon – Not worth a keyword, probably not worth a cycle, definitely not worth my time.
Rare – What part of “don't mention the stack” do you not understand?
One of the worst submissions this week.


CHRIS LUHRS

Here are my submissions for this round. I'm eager to hear what you think.

-chris

Aspects of the Seasons (Common)
2GG
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Land
Enchanted land produces an additional GG when tapped for mana if you control it.
Enchanted land's mana abilities can't be played if you don't control it.

Aspects of Wariness (Common)
2W
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +0/+2 and has vigilance if you control it.
Enchanted creature has defender if you don't control it.

Aspects of Energy (Common)
2UU
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
U: Untap enchanted creature. Plays this ability only once each turn and only if you control enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap phase if you don't control it.

Aspects of Corruption (Common)
1B
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+1 if you control it.
Enchanted creature gets -2/-1 if you don't control it.

Aspects of Aggression (Common)
2R
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+0 and has first strike if you control it.
Enchanted creature attacks each turn if able if you don't control it.

Auras generally have to be very strong to get played because of potential card disadvantage. I tried to make more situational abilities see play by creating enchantments that could be good for you or bad for your opponent. The abilities are supposed to be two sides of the same coin.

Muse of Might (Uncommon)
1GG
Creature - Spirit
1/1
Inspire 3GG (3GG, remove Muse of Might from the game: Target creature gains Muse of Might's abilities. Play this ability only if Muse of Might is in your hand.)
Trample
Muse of Might has +2/+2.

Muse of Sacrifice (Uncommon)
3W
Creature - Spirit
2/2
Inspire 1W (1W, remove Muse of Sacrifice from the game: Target creature gains Muse of Sacrifices's abilities. Play this ability only if Muse of Sacrifice is in your hand.)
Sacrifice Muse of Sacrifice: If target creature would go to the graveyard from play this turn remove it from the game instead, then return that creature to play under its owner's control.

Muse of Rage (Uncommon)
2RR
Creature - Spirit
2/2
Inspire 1R (1R, remove Muse of Rage from the game: Target creature gains Muse of Rage's abilities. Play this ability only if Muse of Rage is in your hand.)
Sacrifice Muse of Rage: Muse of Rage does damage to target creature equal to its power.

Muse of Greed (Uncommon)
3BB
Creature - Spirit
5/5
Inspire 3BB (3BB, remove Muse of Greed from the game: Target creature gains Muse of Greeds's abilities. Play this ability only if Muse of Greed is in your hand.)
At the beginning of your upkeep sacrifice a land or creature other than Muse of Greed.

Muse of Stealth (Uncommon)
3U
Creature - Spirit
2/2
Inspire 2U (2U, remove Muse of Stealth from the game: Target creature gains Muse of Stealth's abilities. Play this ability only if Muse of Stealth is in your hand.)
Flying
Muse of Stealth can't be the target of spells or abilities.

These cards are a cycle of spirits that can infuse another creature with their essence, granting the infused creature their powers. I think there's design space for more than just a cycle of cards within "Inspire." The white muse mechanic acts like a super regenerate.

Green Amplifier
5
Artifact
Affinity for Green Permanents
Green creature spells cost you 2 less to play.
GGG, sacrifice Green Amplifier: Search your library for a green creature, and put it into play. Shuffle your library. Play this ability only if you control six or more green permanents.

White Amplifier
5
Artifact
Affinity for White Permanents
White creatures you control get +1/+1.
WWW, sacrifice White Amplifier: White creatures you control get +2/+2 until end of turn. Play this ability only if you control six or more white permanents.

Red Amplifier
5
Artifact
Affinity for Red Permanents
Whenever a red source you control would deal damage to a creature or player it deals one additional damage to that creature or player instead.
RRR, sacrifice Red Amplifier: Whenever a red source you control would deal damage to a creature or player it deals double that damage instead until end of turn. Play this ability only if you control six or more red permanents.

Black Amplifier
5
Artifact
Affinity for Black Permanents
B, pay 1 life: Regenerate target black creature you control.
BBB, sacrifice Black Amplifier: Return all black creatures in your graveyard to play. Play this ability only if you control six or more black permanents.

Blue Amplifier
5
Artifact
Affinity for Blue Permanents
Blue instants and sorceries cost you 1 less to play.
UUU, sacrifice Blue Amplifier: Search your library for a blue instant or sorcery, and play it without paying its mana cost. Shuffle your library. Play this ability only if you have six or more blue permanents.

Affinity is a great mechanic that got a bad reputation because of its environment (i.e. artifact lands). I'm rehabilitating it. Most artifact cycles are about mana, so I wanted something different. My goal was artifacts that make you want to commit to one color with big rewards if you do.

Aaron: If you want to take something that can be done simply and do it in a more complicated way, you'd better have good reason. I can't tell if Chris's reasons are good or not. His commons are pretty neat, but could be worded more like existing templates (probably using “otherwise”)… but would they seem as cool then? And his uncommons feel like some kind of one-shot Licids, creatures that double as channeled-out Auras. The rares try to do too much, justifying their artifact-ness by potentially costing 0 under the right circumstances and doing two other things. I know we haven't done many cycles of rare artifacts, and maybe Chris's cards hint at why. Not a terrible submission, but not great.

Devin: Last week I said “Chris's cards are well thought-out and seemed like they would play well. His execution often had a few mistakes, and there were not enough interesting new concepts to bring this submission above being just decent.” The commons are a good idea, something that works one way on your guys and one way on the opponent's. Phyrexian Boon and Clutch of Undeath already did this, but we could do more. It should have said “If you control it, do this. Otherwise, do this.” Pretty good.

The uncommon Inspires are a good idea, but the execution was clunky. Is it really necessary to graft a “Sacrifice Muse of Sacrifice: Do something” ability onto another creature named Grizzly Bears? Do players think that works? Inspire is complex enough that the abilities should have been simpler. Pretty good idea though.

The rares were so crazy-color-oriented that it seemed like too much. I don't think they needed all 3 abilities. They were just ok. Overall, a 6 out of 10; good in a weak week.

Gleemax:
Common – Been there, done that.
Uncommon – Interesting idea, horrible execution.
Rare – If you trying to impress us, I'd try harder than this.
I sense deep down there's something there. Please try to show it to us before you're cut.


KENNETH NAGLE

Web Challenge #1: Gimme Five

I was assigned these 3 cycles:

Common: Sorcery
Uncommon: Creature
Rare: Enchantment

Common Cycle - Sorcery
Dispersion

Dispersive Silence (Common)
W
Sorcery
Destroy target enchantment.
Dispersion 4W (When you play this card, if you also paid the dispersion cost, target all enchantments.)

Dispersive Mold (Common)
G
Sorcery
Destroy target artifact.
Dispersion 4G (When you play this card, if you also paid the dispersion cost, target all artifacts.)

Dispersive Blast (Common)
R
Sorcery
Dispersive Blast deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
Dispersion 4R (When you play this card, if you also paid the dispersion cost, target all creatures and players.)

Dispersive Path (Common)
U
Sorcery
Target creature is unblockable this turn.
Dispersion 5U (When you play this card, if you also paid the dispersion cost, target all creatures.)

Dispersive Revival (Common)
B
Sorcery
Return target creature card in your graveyard to your hand.
Dispersion 6B (When you play this card, if you also paid the dispersion cost, target all creature cards in your graveyard.)

The Dispersion (alternatives - Radiate, Splay) mechanic allows single targeted spells to change from aimed missiles to cluster bombs. Since sorceries make poor combat tricks, I dispersed Limited staples. I went simple. Simpler. Then...simplest. The flashy fanciness is left for higher rarities (Giant Growth, Unsummon, and ... of course ... Stone Rain).

Uncommon Cycle - Creature
Mana Invokers

Lifebeam Invoker (Uncommon)
2GG
Creature - Insect Shade Shaman
2/2
1G: Regenerate Lifebeam Invoker.
Whenever you add a {G} to your mana pool, Lifebeam Invoker gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Moonbeam Invoker (Uncommon)
2UU
Creature - Kor Wizard
2/2
2U: Moonbeam Invoker gains flying until end of turn.
Whenever you add a {U} to your mana pool, target creature gets -1/-0 until end of turn.

Skullbeam Invoker (Uncommon)
2BB
Creature - Zombie Assassin
3/2
1B: Skullbeam Invoker gains fear until end of turn.
Whenever you add a {B} to your mana pool, Skullbeam Invoker and target creature an opponent controls both get -1/-1 until end of turn.

Ragebeam Invoker (Uncommon)
2RR
Creature - Dwarf Shaman
3/2
3R: Ragebeam Invoker gains first strike until end of turn.
Whenever you add a {R} to your mana pool, Ragebeam Invoker gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

Sunbeam Invoker (Uncommon)
2WW
Creature - Unicorn Cleric
2/2
W: Sunbeam Invoker gains vigilance until end of turn.
Whenever you add a {W} to your mana pool, you may have a creature of your choice get +0/+1 until end of turn.

Mana Invokers give you combat tricks just for tapping your mana, complete with a manasink. I like the red one being prone to manaburn and the white one being immune to it. Sunbeam Invoker's untargetted templating allows good players to remember and bad players to forget IRL, which rewards skill.

Rare Cycle - Enchantment
Pacts

Autumn-Tail's Pact (Rare)
2WW
Enchantment
You can't play enchantment spells. Other enchantments you control are indestructible.

Azusa's Pact (Rare)
3GG
Enchantment
You can't play lands.
Whenever you tap a land for mana, add one mana to your mana pool of any type that land produced.

Iizuka's Pact (Rare)
2RRR
Enchantment
You can't play creature spells.
Creatures you control have double strike.

Arcanis's Pact (Rare)
2U
Enchantment
You can't untap permanents.
U: Draw a card.

Yawgmoth's Pact (Rare)
BB
Enchantment
As Yawgmoth's Pact comes into play, empty your mana pool.
You can't add mana to your mana pool.
You may pay 1 life instead of paying {1}.
You may sacrifice a Swamp instead of paying {B}.

The Pacts (risky "Hunted" cycle inspired) thematically conveys a story character that accepts a crippling deal for immediate power. Like the Hunted creatures, there's danger! The Donate problem is OBVIOUS – try retemplating the drawbacks to the clunkier "Azusa's Pact's _owner_ can't play lands." I hope Forsythe likes balancing potential brokeness.

Aaron: Kenneth's cards are good enough to survive this round, in my opinion, but he'll need to step it up if he wants to win. His commons bury effects that aren't common in reminder text—innocuous-looking cards are actually Tranquility (ok, sometimes common), Shatterstorm (uncommon at best), Falter (common), Steam Blast (uncommon), and some kind of one-sided Empty the Catacombs (rare). His uncommons are the highlight of the submission, triggering off of something we haven't really messed with before, which also happens to be something that players want to do during a game. My only complaint is that they're probably way too easy—the green one is a giant Looming Shade that regenerates as is gets bigger! Kenneth's rares made me feel sad, as most players won't want to make such a devil's deal. If you aren't willing to put a ton of effort into solving the cards, they seem to self-contradict, and are the kinds of cards the majority of our players would have little interest in using.

Devin: Last week: “Kenneth's had a couple of good hits that I enjoyed, and the whole thing did not have a lot of flaws. But it did not have a lot of awesomely inspiring newness either. He played it pretty safe, and a lot of the cards said to me "We really could make this card….But which players are looking for this or will be excited to get it?"” This week, the commons are a good idea, but some effects are not well chosen Common Steam Blast, raise dead all are excessive. The uncommons were an ok idea, but I disliked putting mana sinks on the same card – it takes all the fun out of the mana sink combo. The untargeted template, which he calls out as a benefit, is a bad idea. Magic targets. I did not like the rares. Five huge drawbacks is too much. Magic players will hate “You can't play creatures.” for example. I give this one a 4 out of 10, losing a point for execution.

Gleemax:
Common – Good keyword, so-so execution.
Uncommon – Another interesting idea whose execution didn't live up.
Rare – Some good individual cards but would need a lot of creative support to feel like a cycle.
Your cards are not living up to your ideas which are quite good.


ANDREW PROBASCO

Soul Graft (common)
2W
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted Creature has "Whenever this creature deals damage, gain an amount of life equal to the damage dealt."
When a creature with converted mana cost 5 or more comes into play, you may put [CARDNAME] into play from your hand attatched to that creature if you control a Plains.

Pickpocket's Cloak (common)
2U
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted Creature has "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to an opponent, draw a card."
When a creature with converted mana cost 5 or more comes into play, you may put [CARDNAME] into play from your hand attatched to that creature if you control an Island

Warped Form (common)
2B
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted Creature has shadow
When a creature with converted mana cost 5 or more comes into play, you may put [CARDNAME] into play from your hand attatched to that creature if you control a Swamp.

Fervent Psychosis (common)
2R
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted Creature has haste
R: enchanted creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
When a creature with converted mana cost 5 or more comes into play, you may put [CARDNAME] into play from your hand attatched to that creature if you control a Mountain.

Cedar Blessing (common)
2G
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant Creature
Enchanted Creature can't be the target of spells or abilities.
When a creature with converted mana cost 5 or more comes into play, you may put [CARDNAME] into play from your hand attatched to that creature if you control a Forest.

This cycle is intended to make Timmy happy, while providing interesting cards in the common slot for limited. One or two mana isn't useful after your sixth land, but at four or more the cards would be unplayable.

Divine Crusade (uncommon)
2WW
Sorcery
Chose a color. Your creatures gain protection from the chosen color until end of turn.
Look through your library for a card named [CARDNAME] and put it in your hand.

Aether Vacuum (uncommon)
2UU
Sorcery
Return target permanent to owner's hand.
Look through your library for a card named [CARDNAME] and put it in your hand.

Vile Plague (uncommon)
2BB
Sorcery
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
Look through your library for a card named [CARDNAME] and put it in your hand.

Storm Calling
2RR
Sorcery
Deal 3 damage to target creature or player.
Look through your library for a card named [CARDNAME] and put it in your hand.

Trampled Undergrowth (uncommon)
2GG
Sorcery
Put a 3/3 green Elephant token into play.
Look through your library for a card named [CARDNAME] and put it in your hand.

The search mechanic means different things for limited and contructed play, like a backwards ripple. While not gamebreaking in and of themselves, they colors more reach without bleeding, particularly the red and green cards.

Leybound Monk (rare)
Creature – Monk
1W
1/2
WT: Prevent all damage that creatures would deal this turn. Play this ability only if any opponent controls 4 or fewer lands.

Thoughtbound Apprentice
Blue Creature (rare)
Creature – Wizard
1U
1/2
Flying
If any opponent has 5 or more cards in hand, cards you own that are not in play have flash.

Gravebound Archon (rare)
1B
Creature – Cleric
2/1
BT: Target opponent discards 2 cards. Play this ability only as a sorcery, and only if that player has 5 or less cards in his or her graveyard.
1BT: Target opponent discards a card.

Hatebound Goblin (rare)
R
Creature – Goblin
1/1
First strike
If any opponent has more than ten life, [CARDNAME] gets +2/+0

Lifebound Murlodont (rare)
2G
Creature – Beast
2/2
Trample
If any opponent controls 3 or less creatures, [CARDNAME] gets +4/+4.

Creatures that are much better in the first few turns lead to complex deckbuilding decisions. Seeing one early will generate lots of tempo, but drawing too many late will have you stall out. This cycle is supposed to be skill testing in that regard, providing exciting cards to experiment with.

Aaron: Andrew's commons encourage big, fat creatures, which is cool, but they could be more exciting. Perhaps they could be played for free and have flash if they target an expensive guy. Workable in any event. The “howling” uncommons are perfectly functional as well, and would probably be liked, but they don't “impress” me as far as contest entries go. Andrew's rare cycle seem pretty absurd, using power as the selling point more than interesting design. A 3/1 first striker for Red Mana? Come on. I'm not thrilled with the batch as a whole.

Devin: Last week I though Andrew was pretty good, if not super inventive. This week I did not like his common cycle. They are very similar to the Dragon Wings cycle, but worse designs. If you really want to give your creature Curiosity, why do you need to have the creature appear with it, instead of just untapping the turn after you play the creature and playing it then? A miss. The uncommons are a fine idea, like howling wolf, but the B,R, and G effects are not well-chosen – with Call of the Herd already good, it would be really annoying to fight through 4 four-mana 3/3's in a row. The rares were not good. Letting your opponent turn off your cards is bad. 3 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – I like what you're trying to do but didn't like how you did it.
Uncommon – This idea would have seemed a whole lot cooler if Magic hadn't done it already.
Rare – These cards neither seem cool nor appear fun to play.
You'll probably make it for another week, but you need to notch your game up fast.


RYAN SUTHERLAND

Just wanna say it feels great to be here!

Barricade Recruitment (Common)
1W
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
When Barricade Recruitment comes into play, destroy all other Auras on enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature looses all other abilities and becomes a 0/5 white Wall with defender.

Dracomutation (Common)
3U
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
When Dracomutation comes into play, destroy all other Auras on enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature looses all other abilities and becomes a 2/4 blue Drake with flying.

Beetling Hex (Common)
2B
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
When Beetling Hex comes into play, destroy all other Auras on enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature looses all other abilities and becomes a 1/1 black Insect with Swampwalk.

Shaman Tutelage (Common)
3RR
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
When Shaman Tutelage comes into play, destroy all other Auras on enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature looses all other abilities and becomes a 2/2 red Shaman with "T: This creature deals 2 damage to target creature."

Wurmform (Common)
4GG
Enchantment - Aura
Enchant creature
When Wurmform comes into play, destroy all other Auras on enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature looses all abilities and becomes a green 6/6 Wurm.

These auras fill different roles in limited in a new flavorful way. The green grants a huge bonus, black was meant as creature removal that will ping you each turn, etc. The Aura destruction effect was added to avoid confusion about a creature with a pair of these on them.

Skald Brooch (Uncommon)
2
Artifact
5, T: Creatures you control gain +1/+1 until end of turn. This ability costs 1 less for each Soldier you control.

Warlock Brooch (Uncommon)
2
Artifact
5, T: Put the top four cards of target player's library into that player's graveyard. This ability costs 1 less for each Wizard you control.

Bonedancer Brooch (Uncommon)
2
Artifact
5, T: Return target creature in your graveyard to your hand. This ability costs 1 less for each Rat you control.

Savage Brooch (Uncommon)
2
Artifact
5, T: Put a 3/1 red Elemental creature token with haste into play. Remove it from the game at end of turn. This ability costs 1 less for each Goblin you control.

Runemaster Brooch (Uncommon)
2
Artifact
5, T: Add four mana of any color to your mana pool. This ability costs 1 less for each Insect you control.

I'd probably recommend this cycle for a set with a mild token or tribal theme so that the costs could be easily reduced. I wanted each ability to be useful for a lot of mana in limited while playable in Constructed if the deck was tribal based.

Tempted Paladin (Rare)
WW
Creature – Human Knight
2/2
Protection from black
Whenever you play a black spell, target player looses 2 life and flip Tempted Paladin.
//
Repentant Shadowknight
BB
Creature - Human Knight
2/2
Protection from white
Whenever you play a white spell, target player you gain 2 life and flip Repentant Shadowknight.

Head Elementalist (Rare)
1U
Creature - Human Wizard
1/1
T: Flip a coin. If the coin comes up heads and you control an Island, draw a card. Otherwise, flip Head Elementalist if you control a mountain.
//
Tailspark Elemental
2RR
Creature - Elemental
6/1
Trample
At the beginning of your upkeep, flip a coin. If the coin comes up heads, flip Tailspark Elemental.

Possessed Elderwood (Rare)
2B
Creature - Demon Treefolk
5/5
Trample
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature.
4GG: Flip Possessed Elderwood.
//
Elderwood Ancient
4GG
Creature - Treefolk
5/5
Trample
T, Sacrifice a Swamp: Flip Elderwood Ancient and put two +1/+1 counters on it.

Elder-Ash Firebird (Rare)
5RR
Creature - Phoenix
5/5
Flying
Whenever Elder-Ash Firebird is put into a graveyard from play, you may sacrifice two plains to return Royal Phoenix to play tapped.
//
Phoenix Descendant
1WW
Creature - Bird Soldier
Flying
T, Sacrifice two mountains: Flip Phoenix Descendant.
2/2

Ontoligical Hierophant (Rare)
2GG
Creature - Elf Druid
2/2
Whenever you play a creature spell, draw a card.
Whenever you play a non-creature spell, flip Ontological Hierophant.
//
Offensive Aethermage
2UU
Creature - Elf Wizard
2/2
Creature spells cost an additional 2 to play.
Whenever you play a creature spell, flip Offensive Aethermage.

Originally this was a cycle of split creature spells, but then I realized how much fun it would be to have the creatures have the abilities to switch over to their alter-egos and back. While they can still be played as just one half, this solution seemed more unqiue.

Aaron: Cool cards alert! Ryan impressed me with all three. He had good ideas that I'd actually want to play with, stuff that felt new and interesting, and just enough rough spots to keep development on our toes. The commons looked like fun cards (especially the Afterlife variant cleverly disguised as Plague Beetle), although those kinds of “overwriting” effects tend not to be common… and I'm not a fan of the hacky “destroy all other” clause. Just make them uncommon and make people learn the rules. The uncommons were very cool, using “affinity” in a fun way that guides you as you build your decks. The flip card cycle seemed really awesome, although it turns out that I'm only really a fan of the first card. It feels like he had a winning recipe and deviated from it, putting things like “Tap: Sacrifice two Plains” when he probably should have stuck with “Whenever you play a white spell.” But the good idea is there!

Devin: Ryan had the best submission last week. He is very good again this week. Clearly the leader so far. The commons this week are a hit for me – the guy becomes usually better or usually worse, but occasionally you'll play it on the other guy. I don't think these are complicated. They would be better without the “destroy auras” clause – it is too much of a hack. The uncommons were a very good idea, though not enough of a payoff for having 3 soldiers, etc. in my mind. I mean Glorious Anthem just always costs 3 to cast and affects everything and is always on. On the rares, we explored this kind of flip trigger in CHK and decided not to do it for a variety of reasons. This whole cycle is a pretty good idea but the best is the WB with the rest sort of along for the ride. 7 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – Not common, but very interesting.
Uncommon – A nice extension of where we've been.
Rare – Got a little too fancy for your own good. One neat rare does not a cycle make.
You're clearly one of the frontrunners for this internship.


SCOTT VAN ESSEN

Effusion of Strength (Common)
3G
Enchantment
CARDNAME comes into play with 4 depletion counters on it.
Remove a depletion counter from CARDNAME: Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

Effusion of Immortality (Common)
3B
Enchantment
CARDNAME comes into play with 4 depletion counters on it.
Remove a depletion counter from CARDNAME: Regenerate target creature.

Effusion of Dexterity (Common)
3W
Enchantment
CARDNAME comes into play with 4 depletion counters on it.
Remove a depletion counter from CARDNAME: Target creature gains first strike until the end of the turn.

Effusion of Lethargy (Common)
3U
Enchantment
CARDNAME comes into play with 4 depletion counters on it.
Remove a depletion counter from CARDNAME: Tap target creature.

Effusion of Distraction (Common)
3R
Enchantment
CARDNAME comes into play with 4 depletion counters on it.
Remove a depletion counter from CARDNAME: Target creature can't block this turn.

Modeled on the seals from Nemesis, this cycle offers repeated small effects rather than one larger effect. Interestingly, cards in this design space trade surprise for the ability to affect the game without even being used. Also several act like auras without the associated card disadvantage.

Vanguard Charger (Uncommon)
2W
Creature – Human Scout
1/4
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, damage that would be dealt to other attacking creatures is dealt to CARDNAME instead.

Faerie Pathfinder (Uncommon)
2UU
Creature – Faerie Scout
1/1
Flying
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, other attacking creatures are unblockable.

Master Tactician (Uncommon)
2R
Creature – Dwarf Scout
1/3
Double strike.
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, other attacking creatures can only be blocked by two or more creatures.

Provoking Behemoth (Uncommon)
4G
Creature – Elemental Scout
4/4
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, other attacking creatures must be blocked by defending player, if possible.

Bloodthirsty Warleader (Uncommon)
4BB
Creature – Minion Scout
3/3
Fear
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, other attacking creatures have “Sacrifice a creature: This creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.”

The scout cycle is designed to promote attacking, but with some tension in keeping the scout alive. With the exception of the Vanguard Charger, each creature has an ability that makes it hard to kill in combat, except the Provoking Behemoth, which gets that benefit naturally from its primary ability.

Lucky Few (Rare)
6B
Instant
Each player sacrifices all but seven permanents of their opponent's choice.

Lucky Draw (Rare)
6U
Instant
Remove all but seven cards in your library from the game, then shuffle your library.

Lucky Save (Rare)
6W
Instant
You gain 7 life and prevent the next 7 damage that will be done to each creature you control.

Lucky Numbers (Rare)
6G
Instant
Choose one – put a 7/7 treefolk creature into play; or put 7 1/1 saproling tokens into play.

Lucky Charm (Rare)
6R
Instant
Flip a coin for each of up to seven target creatures. If you win a flip, untap that creature and gain control of it until the end of the turn. It gains haste.

Rather than tie together through a specific mechanic, the “Lucky” spells are tied together through the number seven. Each one aims to be a splashy game changing effect to get that rare cycle appeal.

Aaron: The common enchantment cycle is pretty neat, although I'd (a) try to get a mana on the activation so your opponent could breathe easier from time to time, and (b) figure out what to do with them when they're “empty” so that they don't sit around clogging up the board. His uncommons are take #2 on Smogsteed Rider, a card that got no love during Guildpact. The tension of having them die during the attack doesn't resonate with most people. The “lucky seven” cycle is pretty cute, and may actually work, but, man, does the white one suck. Decent stuff, but middle-of-the-pack at best.

Devin: Last week there was too much complication from Scott and too many worse versions of things we'd already done. The commons are a very good idea, with a mediocre execution – too many are off in power level. The uncommons are an ok idea, but executed much worse than the other scouts submitted this weak. These feel less Scouty – 2 mana scouts feel much more like advance spies and look-aheads. And common is better for attack trigger cycles. The rares are too similar to existing cards, Choice of Damnations, Doomsday, One Dozen Eyes. I'm worried about ongoing lack of innovation here. Overall 5 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – Been there, done that, but nice execution.
Uncommon – Yawn. Doesn't Magic already do this?
Rare – An inventive cycle connection but the cards don't live up.
There's something here but you're not designing on all cylinders yet.


NOAH WEIL

The common "Release" cycle:

Release: "Remove this creature from the game when you play its release cost. This ability may only be used when a creature is in the graveyard."

Devotee of Djet (common)
B
Creature-Human Cleric
1/1
Release-B: Target creature gets -1/-1 until the end of turn.

Devotee of Ferron (common)
R
Creature-Human Shaman
1/1
Release-R: Target creature gains haste until the end of turn.

Devotee of Tourm (common)
G
Creature-Elf Druid
1/1
Release-G: Add two mana of any one color to your mana pool.

Devotee of Mara'Bar (common)
W
Creature-Human Cleric
1/1
Release-W: Prevent the next two damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.

Devotee of Lazûl (common)
U
Creature- Vedalken Sage
1/1
Release-U: Tap target land, artifact, or creature.

Release creates tension as opponents decide whether they'll avoid killing these creatures, or afford not to. This cycle is the smallest version; higher costs and rarities provide bigger effects. Release would go into a set with graveyard themes and/or discard costs (Compulsion/Medicine Bag). Could play alongside Pyre.

The uncommon "Seal" cycle:

Shackled Ocelot (uncommon)
W
Enchantment
Shackled Ocelot comes into play with two seal counters on it. Whenever an opponent plays a Black or Red spell, you may remove a seal counter from Shackled Ocelot.
When there are no seal counters on Shackled Ocelot, it becomes a 2/1 Cat creature with "Protection from Black and Red".

Petrified Viper (uncommon)
G1
Enchantment
Petrified Viper comes into play with two seal counters on it. Whenever an opponent plays a Black or Blue spell, you may remove a seal counter from Petrified Viper.
When there are no seal counters on Petrified Viper, it becomes a 3/3 Snake creature with "Islandwalk" and "Swampwalk".

Accursed Crone (uncommon)
BB1
Enchantment
Accursed Crone comes into play with two seal counters on it. Whenever an opponent plays a Green or White spell, you may remove a seal counter from Accursed Crone.
When there are no seal counters on Accursed Crone, it becomes a 3/2 Witch creature with "Whenever a Green or White creature comes into play under an opponent's control, Accursed Crone deals one damage to that creature".

Frozen Matriarch (uncommon)
R3
Enchantment
Frozen Matriarch comes into play with two seal counters on it. Whenever an opponent plays a Blue or White spell, you may remove a seal counter from Frozen Matriarch.
When there are no seal counters on Frozen Matriarch, it becomes a 4/3 Goblin creature with "Whenever an opponent plays a Blue or White spell, put a 1/1 Red Goblin token into play".

Wyvern Remnant (uncommon)
UU3
Enchantment
Wyvern Remnant comes into play with two seal counters on it. Whenever an opponent plays a Green or Red spell, you may remove a seal counter from Wyvern Remnant.
When there are no seal counters on Wyvern Remnant, it becomes a 4/4 Drake creature with "Flying" and "All Green creatures and Red creatures opponents control get -1/-0".

*Aegis Xenophobe (uncommon)
2
Enchantment
Aegis Xenophobe comes into play with two seal counters on it. Whenever an opponent plays a colored spell, you may remove a seal counter from Aegis Xenophobe.
When there are no seal counters on Aegis Xenophobe, it becomes a 1/3 Construct artifact creature with "All colored spells cost 1 more to play".

Color hosers have historically been absurd (Perish) or laughable (Starlight). These block-neutral enchantments remain engaging as they transform into creatures with strong color-affecting abilities. Creature colors get combat abilities, while the rest get creatures that "feel" like enchantments. Plus a bonus card that's anti-every color, and the first colorless enchantment!

The rare "Pyre" cycle.

Pyre X: (When you play a spell with Pyre X, you may remove any multiple of X cards from your graveyard from the game. For each instance of X you remove, reduce this card's casting cost by 1) [In these cards' case, if you remove 18 cards from your graveyard as you play it, its casting cost is CCC]

Agony Strike (rare)
6BBB
Sorcery
Pyre: 3
Target player discards four cards. For each card discarded in this way, that player sacrifices a creature.

Envy Swell (rare)
6UUU
Sorcery
Pyre: 3
If you control less enchantments than target opponent, you may gain control of an enchantment that player controls. Repeat this process for lands, artifacts, and creatures.

Combustion Storm (rare)
6RRR
Sorcery
Pyre: 3
Combustion Storm deals X damage to target player and all creatures that player controls, where X is the number of Red instants and sorceries in your graveyard.

Scion Sweep(rare)
6GGG
Sorcery
Pyre: 3
Any number of target players may search their library for X basic lands and put them into play tapped, where X is the number of lands that player controls.

Seraphim Surge (rare)
6WWW
Sorcery
Pyre: 3
Put all creature cards with flying from all graveyards into play under your control.

These splashy spells are the flagships for the Pyre mechanic. Pyre is strong, but gives developers a lot of control via Pyre costs and the generic mana in cc. Every player type gets a big spell here. Johnny (Red/White), Spike (Black/Blue), and Timmy loves Green's effect in solo, two-headed, or multiplayer.

Aaron: I like Noah's commons—simple, functional, and different. His uncommons buried my brain under tons and tons of text, and the result was the unimpressive, “I get a River Bear if my opponent lets me.” The rare “pyre” mechanic is neat—they get better as the game goes on normally, or you can build around trying to get them as cheap as possible as quickly as possible. I'm not a huge fan of the tension the white and red ones create, but that can be addressed easily enough. Decent stuff this time.

Devin: Last week solid but too safe, not exploratory enough. This week the commons are a good idea, executed well. Good job. The uncommons are not very good. Two counters is tons more text for very little play difference from the Hidden Spider etc. that we have already printed. Text vs. Payoff is a constant design struggle. The rare Pyre is a good idea with some interesting cards. Good job this week. 7 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – Solid design as usual, but still boring.
Uncommon – What I just said.
Rare – Finally, an actual interesting and innovative mechanic.
Whatever part of you that did your rare cycle, let it do next week's design.


AARON WEINER

Common cycle:

Persistent Armorer (common)
2W
Creature – Human Soldier
2/2
Other creatures you control get +0/+1.
0: Persistent Armorer becomes an enchantment.(It's no longer a creature. This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Persistent Screamer (common)
2R
Creature – Goblin Shaman
2/2
Whenever you play a creature spell, target creature can't block this turn.
0: Persistent Screamer becomes an enchantment.(It's no longer a creature. This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Persistent Viner (common)
2G
Creature – Elf Druid
2/2
Green spells cost you 1 less to play.
0: Persistent Viner becomes an enchantment.(It's no longer a creature. This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Persistent Torturer (common)
2B
Creature – Devil Mercenary
2/2
At the beginning of your upkeep, each player loses 1 life.
0: Persistent Torturer becomes an enchantment.(It's no longer a creature. This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

Persistent Intimidator (common)
2U
Creature – Vedalken Wizard
2/2
1UU, sacrifice ~: Counter target spell.
0: Persistent Intimidator becomes an enchantment.(It's no longer a creature. This effect doesn't end at end of turn.)

These creatures have two parts: their Gray Ogre fleshly shell and their immortal essence. This is a tight cycle, repeating mana costs, power, toughness, and the “persistence” effect.

Uncommon cycle:

Impale on the Peak (uncommon)
1G
Sorcery
Search your library for a basic Mountain card and put it into play. If you do, destroy target creature with flying.
Shuffle your library.

Crash Summon (uncommon)
3R

Sorcery Search your library for a Goblin card and put it into play.
If you do, Crash Summon deals 3 damage to target creature or player and 3 damage to the Goblin.
Shuffle your library.

Craft From Flesh (uncommon)
2B
Sorcery
Search your library for an artifact card with the same converted mana cost as target nonblack, nonartifact creature and put it into play. If you do, remove that creature from the game.
Shuffle your library.

Convert By Blessing (uncommon)
3W
Sorcery
Search your library for an aura card and put it into play enchanting target creature you don't control. If you do, gain control of that creature at the beginning of your next upkeep.
Shuffle your library.

Inspire Imitation (uncommon)
4U
Sorcery
Search your library for a permanent card with converted mana cost 1 or less and put it into play. If you do, the next permanent that comes into play under an opponent's control comes into play as a copy of that card.
Shuffle your library.

This loose, top-down cycle of in-your-face tutors allows you to not just play permanents, but throw them at your opponent's forces. Note the mapping of colors to permanents: green->land, white->enchantment, black->artifact, red->creature, blue->any.

Rare cycle:

Weakness: Permanent (rare)
U
Enchantment—Aura
Enchant permanent
When ~ comes into play, draw 2 cards.
When ~ leaves play, you lose the game.
~ is indestructible.

Weakness: Enchantment (rare)
W
Enchantment—Aura
Enchant enchantment
When ~ comes into play, gain 10 life.
When ~ leaves play, you lose the game.
~ is indestructible.

Weakness: Artifact (rare)
B
Enchantment—Aura
Enchant artifact
When ~ comes into play, each opponent discards a card, then discards a card at random.
When ~ leaves play, you lose the game.
~ is indestructible.

Weakness: Creature (rare)
R
Enchantment—Aura
Enchant creature
When ~ comes into play, destroy target land.
When ~ leaves play, you lose the game.
~ is indestructible.

Weakness: Land (rare)
G
Enchantment—Aura
Enchant land
When ~ comes into play, put a 3/3 green Spirit creature token into play.
When ~ leaves play, you lose the game.
~ is indestructible.

This cycle embodies a classic fantasy archetype. As a subtheme, I repeat the (color->permanent type) cycle structure I used with the uncommons. These cards are similar to the Circles of Protection in more than name; sideboard in Weakness: Enchantment against black/red.

Aaron: I really like Aaron's commons. They do something neat that would absolutely lead to interesting play decisions. His uncommons are also really neat and would lead to cool deckbuilding decisions, and they have interesting flavor as well. As for his rares… yuck. Mark's instructions basically said that rare cycles exist to sell sets, and these cards wouldn't do that at all. Too many of this week's batch—not just Aaron's—try to “sell” cards with gigantic negatives—and not fun negatives, either. Stuff like “your creature dies” or “you lose the game” barely make up for whatever upside the cards have. Yes, if you're really into the game and love solving puzzles and balancing risk and reward, cards like Aaron's rares might interest you. But most people want all upside in their rare cycles. Anyway, two out of three good cycles puts Aaron in good standing with me.

Devin: Last week, Aaron was too subtle and too complicated. This week was much better. Common was a fantastic idea, executed well. 1-mana activation might be better. Great job. The uncommons had awesome flavor and since the cycle is so loose, each card has the freedom to be what it wants to be. Another awesome hit. The rares were bad – making 5 cards with lose the game is a bad idea. And they're so swingy when they work “Black Mana Stupor??” “Red Mana Stone Rain??” that when they get cast the game isn't fun at all, and when their drawback kicks in, that's not fun at all either. Still among the best this week on the strength of the first 2. 7 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – Interesting. Not common, but interesting.
Uncommon – I like it but it's all over the board.
Rare – You win for making the mechanic most likely to be hated by the public.
Good arm, bad control.


LANDON WINKLER

Auratide Enchantments – Common
I created this cycle to actively reward the “build your own monster” impulse, instead of hiding its disadvantages. In addition to creating Akroma-esque monstrosities at the dinner table, Auratide could create a fun Limited archtype. Templating came last, allowing Auratide's printing on non-Auras and adding the number for easy tweaks.

Angelic Presence (Common)
1W
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Whenever enchanted creature deals damage, you gain that much life.
Auratide 3 (When you play an Aura with converted mana cost 3 or more, you may return this from your graveyard to play.)

Elemental Presence (Common)
2GG
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has trample.
Auratide 5 (When you play an Aura with converted mana cost 5 or more, you may return this from your graveyard to play.)

Invisible Presence (Common)
1U
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can't be blocked except by creatures with defender.
Auratide 3 (When you play an Aura with converted mana cost 3 or more, you may put this card from your graveyard into play.)

Toxic Presence (Common)
B
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/-1
Auratide 2 (When you play an Aura with converted mana cost 2 or more, you may return this from your graveyard to play.)

Volcanic Presence (Common)
2R
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+0 and has first strike.
Auratide 4 (When you play an Aura with converted mana cost 4 or more, you may return this from your graveyard to play.)

Five Heralds – Uncommon
Enemy color design space is largely untapped, so I focused this cycle on it. First came flavor, then color-appropriate abilities that “warp the battlefield with their presence.” They're balanced on the bomb side for Limited, to create interesting deckbuilding opportunities in an environment without enemy color support.

Herald of Chaos (Uncommon)
2UR
Creature – Spirit Knight
2/2
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, whenever an opponent plays an instant spell, you may copy that spell. If you do, you may choose new targets for the copy.

Herald of Rot (Uncommon)
2GB
Creature – Spirit Knight
2/2
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, whenever a nontoken creature is put into a graveyard from play, you may put a 1/1 green Saproling token into play.

Herald of Storms (Uncommon)
2UG
Creature – Spirit Knight
2/2
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, whenever a land is tapped for mana, return it to its owner's hand.

Herald of Tyranny (Uncommon)
2WB
Creature – Spirit Knight
2/2
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, creatures can't block unless their controller pays 2 life for each creature blocking.

Herald of War (Uncommon)
2WR
Creature – Spirit Knight
2/2
As long as CARDNAME is attacking, creatures gain “T: This creature deals damage equal to its power to target blocking creature.”

Astral Sorceries – Rare
These cards represent the rare, linear end of an astral theme and are written assuming that reminder text isn't essential. I wanted to explore players' willingness to rearrange cards removed from the game (unlike those in graveyards). Also, Whisper's once per turn limit should encourage interesting play and deck choices.

Beyond the Gate (Rare)
2G
Astral Sorcery
Search your library for any number of astral land cards and remove them from the game. Then shuffle your library. Remove CARDNAME from the game.
Whisper – 1GG: Put target astral land card you own that's removed from the game into play. (During your upkeep you may activate one Whisper ability from a card you own that is removed from the game.)

Call of the Gatekeeper (Rare)
3WW
Astral Sorcery
Remove all astral creatures and CARDNAME from the game.
Whisper - 4WWW: Put a legendary X/X white Angel creature token with flying named The Gatekeeper into play, where X is the number of astral cards you own removed from the game. (During your upkeep you may activate one Whisper ability from a card you own that is removed from the game.)

Gatekeeper's Wisdom (Rare)
XUU
Astral Sorcery
Search your library for up to X astral cards and remove them from the game. Then shuffle your library. Remove CARDNAME from the game.
Whisper – 2UU: Put target astral instant card that's removed from the game into its owner's hand. (During your upkeep you may activate one Whisper ability from a card you own that is removed from the game.)

Gatestorm (Rare)
R
Astral Sorcery
Return CARDNAME to your hand, then remove from the game a card at random from your hand.
Whisper – 1RR: Put target astral creature card that's removed from the game into play. It gains haste. Sacrifice it at end of turn. (During your upkeep you may activate one Whisper ability from a card you own that is removed from the game.)

Voice in the Mists (Rare)
1B
Astral Sorcery
Remove CARDNAME and all astral cards in all graveyards from the game.
Whisper - 3BB: Search your deck for a card with the same name as target astral card that's removed from the game, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. (During your upkeep you may activate one Whisper ability from a card you own that is removed from the game.)

Aaron: Landon's cards didn't quite do it for me. His common enchantments might work fine in Limited, but they feel a lot like the “dragon parts” from Scourge. That said, they may be fun and do leave the door open for deckbuilders. Landon's uncommons failed to deliver on the “Limited bomb” status he trumpeted; with several of them, your opponent has complete control on whether the ability ever goes off, and they can simply be blocked and killed like any other four-mana 2/2. His rares hinted strongly at a set that used a tone of cards with a new supertype, and all the cards are incredibly parasitic, which means that you can't use them in decks that aren't awash in the theme. We tried a similar thing with Arcane in Kamigawa, and those cards never gained much popularity.

Devin: Last week: “This submission suffered from having too many unfocused cards that did multiple things that had nothing to do which each other.” This week the commons were just okay; really similar to Dragon Wings and Soulshift. The heralds are bad designs. The UR and UG ones will never ever trigger. And he says he costed them as Limited bombs, but many are actually unplayable. The WB and WR ones were ok. The rares were a miss for me. I don't like cards that are best when you have only one card with that mechanic in your deck. A miss. 2 out of 10.

Gleemax:
Common – You like soulshift, I see.
Uncommon – These are painfully bad.
Rare – Design tip: Removing player interaction almost never works out.
Stop making cards that aren't fun to play.


And there we have our fifteen designers' first challenge. Join me next week (Friday!) when I review them and give three of the applicants the boot. Then you'll get a chance to see how the remaining twelve do on our second challenge (which will also result, a week later, in three more eliminations.)

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