Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome to February!

Thanks for following!  As you may have noticed, the Card of the Day was updated at 12 midnight instead of 12 noon.  From now on, this will be the norm.  Remember:  I always enjoy hearing your comments.  Don't be shy!  I like good comments and constructive criticism as well.  This blog is to help myself (and others) get better at designing cards!  Let's be awesome together!

Olaf

Card of the Day - Warm Up

Things that aren't snow like to be warmed up.  Things that are snow don't.

Card of the Day - Stifling Steam

It's a better Mana Leak that only works against snow.
Sample conversation between a blue player and a snow player:
Blue: Pay 3!
Snow: :(

Monday, January 30, 2012

Card of the Day - Set Fire





This week's theme is cards that don't like snow.  Red likes to set fire to things.  Snow doesn't like being on fire.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Card of the Day - Elora Bix

I wanted to do something a little different with Elora.  Where planeswalkers generally have 3 activated abilties (with 2 notable exceptions), Elora's only got 2.

Her static ability is useful and simple.
Her +1 is White because it promotes equality; each player has the choice of what to sacrifice.
Her -4 is powerful and also simple.
Another nice thing about her is the fact that she can be brought back with Sun Titan


Here's an updated version that doesn't lock players out of games as badly:




Card of the Day - Powder Box

Super Special Bonus Artifact Saturday!  This is the 6th card in the Powder cycle.  Simple and nice.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Card of the Day - Gunpowder

Kudos to my awesome girlfriend for renaming this one from Flame Powder.  This is probably the most powerful of the cycle. 

The Color Identity of Snow - Lands


The Color Identity of Snow – Lands

This is going to be last blog post about the color identity of Snow.  We'll be exploring the most basic card type, lands. (See what I did there?)

Since the inception of Snow as a type, lands have played a big part in creating its identity. For many years, only lands had the power of snow. One of the first blog posts was the introduction of my Snow project, and I showed you this card:



 This was the basis for the whole set, and I've always wanted lands to be the centerpoint of Snow.  We are going to expand on lands with a few different cycles. Today I'm going to showcase a common, uncommon, and rare cycle of non-basic snow lands. There will most likely be more cycles of lands in the set, but these are all I've come up with so far. We'll start with common.



The common cycle lands don't produce mana, and they all get sacrificed after being used. I wanted the lands to feel like ice. Powerful and fragile. There are quite a few cards that deal with lands in this set. I wanted there to be many more lands than usual in Frostmere.

The uncommon cycle is next.



There are a cycle of allied color snow lands that have the abilty word Frigid. So far, I've only designed these lands with the ability, but I'm sure there is some design space to be found there. Good for mana fixing, especially combined with my first proposed rare lands.



This was my first take on the rare lands. A mixed fetch land that gets a single type of land untapped, or any snow land, tapped. After some thinking, I decided that these were taking up way too many rare slots, so I made it into a single, multipurpose card.



I still wanted a cycle of rare lands, so I made them filters.



The nice thing about these is that you can splash both the color this land provides and snow with these, as they transform all the filtered mana into snow mana.

There are other lands in the set, and most of them are snow. I wanted a lot of the identity of snow to be in the lands.

In other news, I may have promised a Snow Planeswalker last week, so here he is!



Next week, we'll veer away from snow and talk about a new mechanic and some designs based on it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Regarding Feedback

Today has been a good day for feedback!  I want to thank everyone who's been posting on here and urge you to keep doing it!  I am changing the settings so that posters have to register, but it's only because I've been getting a lot of Anonymous posts. 

Also:  I love getting criticisms on my designs, but please post a variation that you think is better!  We can work together to improve our designs.  

Thank you all again for posting.

Olaf.


Card of the Day - Sprout Powder

Green.  I like the flavor text on this one.

Edit:  Here's a more balanced version.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Card of the Day - Dream Powder





Blue's entry into the cycle is a little different.  I chose to put the discard first because it's an instant. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Card of the Day - Flash Powder





Each week I'm going to be showcasing a different cycle of cards.  This week's entries are Powders.  They are all one mana instant cantrips that have small effects.  Flash Powder was the first one I designed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Card of the Day - Machina Serpent



Today's card features a new mechanic called Unaligned.  Unaligned spells may only be cast with colorless mana.  See if you can come up with any good designs for this mechanic!

Edit: 3rd Ability's redundancy fixed.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Card of the Day - Moonlight


I designed this card because I like Bad Moon and Crusade so much.  I think it's a nice effect that works doubly for creatures that are both Black and White.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Card of the Day - Pterodactyl

Day 5.  Wrapping up our allied hybrid Dinosaurs is the good ol' Pterodactyl.





The Color Identity of Snow - Enchantments


In making Snow a theme for Frostmere, I had to give it something that nothing else has had before. After some fooling around with different mechanics, this is what I came up with:




Notice the type line. Yes, it's true. Snow has enchantments that tap. Although Frozen Totem is not the first one to do so, (I'm talking to you Flowstone Embrace) it's the first time that tapping enchantments are a part of the flavor of the set.

A rule I set out for myself, as mentioned in last week's article, is that everything in this set that has the Snow type needs to have Snow in either its mana cost or ability costs. As I was designing Snow Artifacts, I noticed that there were an inordinate amount of them that had Snow mana costs. It felt unelegant to force Snow mana costs on artifacts without any activated abilites, so I tried switching the type of card. Snow enchantments have generally the same feel as artifacts, but are able to be targeted by a different subset of cards – Naturalize still works, but you can't Shatter a Frozen Totem. This seemingly innocuous side effect makes Snow better against Red, the color weakest against enchantments. Somehow, the cold winning against the inherent heat of the color red feels right in Frostmere.

I am aware of the fact that enchantments aren't supposed to tap, and these enchantments feel very artifact-y, but the beauty lies in the fact that they need to be dealt with in a different way than artifacts. Here's a few more examples our snow enchantments:






Let me know what you think, and next Friday we'll talk about lands, and maybe a Planeswalker (or two).


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Card of the Day - Renold, the Blight

A powerful Mythic Rare that uses a keyword for each of it's colors to create an absolute beast.  (Incedentally, this is my favorite three-color combination.)

Edit:  Here's the updated version.  A bit stronger now.



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Card of the Day - Supply Road


I created this card because I love The Uzra Lands and I feel that Cloudpost is a bit too powerful.  This seems to be at a power level somewhere between the two.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Card of the Day - Battery Surge





A fun little pump cantrip for artifact decks.  I like the tension that there needs to be an artifact creature on the battlefield for this spell to be cast.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Card of the Day - Desecrate

Forcing opponents to make painful decisions is such a black thing to do.  This card could stand to cost 3BB maybe.

The Color Identity of Snow – Creatures


Figuring out which creatures should be Snow in our set is going to be a bit of a problem. In the entire history of magic there are 29 Snow creatures. Since Snow is going to be a big deal in Frostmere, we're going to need quite a few more than that. To get an idea of what Snow creatures can do, we should look at their history. All but one of these cards were in Coldsnap. The last was a Future Sight card. Looking at these, we see a few themes repeating.

  1. Flying. 11 of 29 Snow creatures have flying.
  2. Activated abilities. 21 out of the 29 have at least one activated ability. 17 of those abilites are activated with Snow mana.
  3. 2 can give first strike
  4. 2 can regenerate
  5. 2 can sacrifice creatures for an effect
  6. 2 use ice counters
  7. 4 can pump themselves or others. (+1/+1 and +1/+0)
  8. 2 are multicolored
  9. 3 are artifact creatures
  10. None of them require Snow mana to cast.
  11. 12 of them are unnecessarily snow. Meaning, they have no cost associated with snow mana.

We will keep a few of these conventions, and replace some others. A few rules for our Snow creatures.

  1. Flying. This is a big part of Snow creatures. There will be more Snow flying creatures than non-Snow flying creatures in the set.
  2. There will be at least 2 Snow creatures that can regenerate.
  3. Ice counters will see some use in this set.
  4. There will be some +1/+1s in Snow.
  5. There are no multicolored Snow cards in the set, and therefore no multicolored Snow creatures.
  6. A great deal of them will require only Snow mana to cast.
  7. There will be no unnecessarily Snow creatures. They will all have either a mana cost or activation cost that requires Snow mana.

Let's get designing!

First of all, let's make a colorless snow creature.


This guy is your basic 2/3 for 3, with a decent ability. Nice and snow.

Here's another:



I feel like Snow creatures should generally have toughness higher than power. Now that we have a few colorless snow guys let's try something a bit different. Since so is so pervasive on this plane, it influences all colors of mana. Here are some examples:











Now that you have an idea of what kinds of creatures we'll be seeing in this set, feel free to design a few and post them here.


Here's a sneak peek at a few things we will see in this set:

  1. A snow lord
  2. A Snow Planeswalker
  3. A new ability word, Icy, that counts the amount of Snow permanents you control.
  4. A new mechanic, Mount, that lets your creatures combine to do cooler stuff.
  5. Enchantments that do things we've never seen before.

Next Friday's post will be about Enchantments and Snow.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Card of the Day - Ancient One






This card was created for Magic: the Gunslinger, a set based around Stephen King's epic series of novels, The Dark Tower.  This guy was one of the vampires at the Dixie Pig in the beginning of book seven.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Card of the Day - Bet It All






This is a nice alternate win condition card that forces you to be teetering on the edge of oblivion. I created this one before mana burn stopped existing, so it's going to be a little trickier to pull it off.  Also: a good way to kill someone with Healing Salve.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Card of the Day - Eldritch Parasite

A Mind Control variant based on the idea that there is an ancient being living underneath the frozen wastes.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Card of the Day - Dread Spire


This is one of my favorite designs.  I love the idea of trying to get it into play.

The Color Identity of Snow - Instants and Sorceries



First of all, let's look at what Snow has done in the past. As you can see, it's going to be difficult to get a color identity for Snow as it has only appeared fully realized in one small set.  The few cards that appeared in Ice Age and Alliances aren't much help.  The two main things that Snow can do are:

  1. It makes mana. The original Snow-covered lands are not the only example. There are 12 lands, two creatures (Thermopod, Boreal Druid) two enchantments (Winter's Night, Snowfall), and one artifact (Coldsteel Heart) that produce Snow mana.
  2. It counts the amount of Snow permanents you (or another player) control. There are three cards that count the number of snow lands (Cold Snap, Drift of the Dead, and Snowblind), and six that count snow permanents (Heidar, Rimewind Master, Rimefeather Owl, Rimewind Cryomancer, Skred, and Rimewind Taskmage). Each of these cards does something different with the number of permanents, but they all keep a tally.

Next, let's look at what we'd like Snow Instants and Snow Sorceries to do to evoke a feeling of coldness. These things are not necessarily absent from what Snow has done, but it's the things we like it to do more of. We'll try to get something from each color, if possible.

  1. Preventing permanents from untapping. This is a normal effect of blue spells that have a cold connotation, such as Frost Breath, Frost Titan, Permafrost Trap, and Wall of Frost.
  2. Direct damage. There are a few icy red spells devoted to dealing damage, such as Karplusan Wolverine, Skred, Glacial Ray, Pinpoint Avalanche and Winter Sky.
  3. Damage prevention. Glacial Crevasses, Sunstone, Cover of Winter. Although only one of these cards is white, getting lost in a blizzard is a good trope for Frostmere.
  4. Messing with flying creatures. Adarkar Windform, Blizzard, Whiteout. A very green concept, and a good one for snow.
  5. Destroying creatures and lands. Chill to the Bone, Avalanche, Icequake, Thermokarst. Getting rid of creatures seems to be something Snow is very good at, using many different methods. Direct removal of a specific creature, no matter how big, is something snow is able to do. It has that in common with black.
  6. Putting ice counters on permanents for different effects. Rimescale Dragon, Rimefeather Owl, Iceberg. Not based in a single color, but something that Snow should do more of.

Let's put everything together and see if we can't make a new Snow Instant right now. It should have a mix of two or more color identities while keeping it cold at the same time.




Blinding Sleet has what we need for a good Snow card. It could be printed as a Red/Green or Red/White card, but it feels right for Snow. This is what I mean.

Next time, I'll talk about Snow Creatures and how we can make them effective and flavorful.

-olaf.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Card of the Day - Void Dragon




I made this guy a long time ago.  He's like a Shivan Dragon, but with black's shade mechanic.  Simple, evocative, effective. Bad-ass.

-olaf.

The History of Snow


Four sets mention snow as a card type (Ice Age, Alliances, Coldsnap, Future Sight). Three of the sets have snow permanents, two of them have non-lands with the type, and only one has more than one snow card.

Ice Age brought about the type in the form of Snow-Covered basic lands. The rules were thus: 1) It's a basic land, but it's snow covered. 2) Some other cards might refer to snow-covered lands. 3) That's it. There were a few cards that referred to these lands, but the bonuses to play snow lands were not that great, (see Karplusan Giant.) and the drawbacks were pretty bad (see Avalanche). Few people, if any, used the “snow” cards. Alliances only had a handful of cards that mentioned snow-covered lands, and those cards are quite forgettable (see Viscerid Drone). It wasn't until Coldsnap that snow was recognized as a valid mechanic. The set was supposed to be the “lost” third set in the Ice Age block and had TONS of snow-y things happening in it. The snow-covered basics returned along with a cycle of dual “comes-into-play-tapped” lands (or as we say now, “enters-the-battlefield-tapped”).

Wizards also made a new supertype for cards called Snow. All the snow covered basics had the type line: “basic snow land – whatever” and the new rule was that any mana drawn from a Snow permanent had the type “snow” as well. They threw the type around to all the colors, giving a whole lot of creatures the new supertype for what seemed like no reason at all. (A few of the creatures had activated abilites that used snow mana as a cost, such as Rimefeather Owl, but I have no idea why Adarkar Valkyrie and Gutless Ghoul are snow creatures.)

There were a few things from Coldsnap upon which I decided to improve. While Coldsnap used snow as a tacked-on word to colored permanents, the world I'm building has Snow as a central theme and colored snow permanents don't feel right. Why should something be snow if you can cast it without using snow mana? The lands in Coldsnap (such as Mouth of Ronom and Scrying Sheets) do feel right, and I decided to use that idea to build my world, the plane of Frostmere.

Frostmere is so named because of the harsh, icy conditions that have been part of the plane since its inception. Endless blizzards block off parts of the world which mortals have yet to reach. Magic here is made from necessity, created from the frozen lands in which its casters reside. The influence of the colors of mana is much less pronounced than the mana of the snow and ice surrounding everything. In this world, snow is colorless. There are a few colored spells that are Snow, but they are influenced by the cold; any spell or permanent that is designated as Snow will have some connection to it. Take a look at this:


This card is the base for the whole set. It is now possible to create a colorless snow deck, helped by the fact that a quarter of the set is snow-centric. I chose to use the symbol for Snow mana instead of just the colorless 1 because it is more evocative of the setting and feeling of the set. This land will be in the rotation with the other basics and snow-covered basics in packs.

You can use snow-covered forests in your colorless deck, but what's the point? You don't need them to cast this:



Tomorrow, I'll talk about the identity of Snow Instants and Snow Sorceries in Frostmere.

-olaf.