Wednesday, December 15, 2010

GDS2 Cycles Design Test Commentary - part 2 of 6

The competition on Magic: The Gathering's GDS2 is heating up, and with six hopefuls left they were tasked with designing cycles of cards. I gave feedback to the first contestant in my last post, so here are my comments on the cards of the next contestant.

Jonathon's cards:

Common Cycle




CW01 – Omeisaurus
4WW
Creature – Lizard
5/6

It's a cycle of big dinosaurs, that fits the set. I recall the judges even saying as much in previous rounds, so this should go over well.

CU01 – Baryonyx
4UU
Creature – Lizard
5/5
A cycle of  vanillas? Bold choice. Maybe after all the words you put on your cards in previous submissions you're trying to show you can keep the words to a minimum?

CBO1 – Marshosaurus 
4BB
Creature – Lizard
6/5

I am worried they're gonna blast you for not really submitting interesting designs (certainly not designs they can critique very much). Maybe they will take them as I am - a fitting cycle and proof that you're listening. 


CR01  Afrovenator
4RR
Creature – Lizard
7/4
At least these pictures I found fit the colors you chose for each of them.

CG01 – Hadrosaurus
4GG
Creature – Lizard
6/6

Aren't you impressed that I was able to make five comments about a vanilla cycle? I'm kind of impressed that you took the risk of submitting a vanilla cycle. Many might say there's not enough design to judge here, but you're partly showing what each color gets for stats when they get a big common, and that this set has some giant dinosaurs in it.


Uncommon Cycle

UW01 – Avant-garde Guard
1W
Instant
Target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UU01 – Far Out
2U
Instant
All creatures target player controls get -2/-0 until end of turn.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UB01 – Torturous Breakthrough
4B
Instant
Destroy target nonblack creature.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UR01 – Cutting-edge Combustion
1R
Instant
Cutting-edge Combustion deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

UG01 – Ground Breaking
2G
Instant
Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.
If you control two or more colors of permanents, draw a card.

Wow, do you want to lose this round? Didn't they just rip into someone for putting a pile of cantrips into their commons? Jonathon, I was rooting for you because I've met you before and you seem like a cool guy, and your ideas were strong in the beginning, but you're slowly sliding down. These feel like a common cycle, and not a good one. Why didn't you make the effects bigger as a reward? Or double the effects? Or copy the spell? Those are all just as easy and simple as "cantrip" but they are far more interesting designs and a lot less likely to rile up R&D. Also, I think the wording would be "if you control permanents of two or more colors," though I wouldn't dock you for that in the design stage, it's a templating thing and what you have is pretty clear.

Rare Cycle

RW01 – Overcome
3WW
Sorcery
Preeminence – Destroy all creatures with power less than X, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

Cool! Nice use of the "biggest guy" mechanic, and this wrath often leaves you with the only creature on an empty board. I love it! I expect this to be Nagle's favorite card in your submission, and it certainly is my favorite. I want to build a deck for this!


RU01 – Overthink
4UUU
Sorcery
Preeminence – Draw X cards and untap up to X lands, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

Momentous Fall is an interesting and different card from Soul's Majesty. This Overthink was not thunk about enough, as it's just Soul's Majesty with a very junky untap effect tacked onto it. You should have looked for a different design entirely. Also, that "untap lands free-spell mechanic" is not very good for magic and this card would make for the worst kind of counterspell-heavy control deck. I would fight tooth and nail to keep this from being printed, even if I thought it was good design in the abstract, which I don't.

RB01 – Overtime
4BB
Sorcery
Preeminence – Put all creature cards with power less than X from your graveyard onto the battlefield, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

I like this too, though I'm not sure if it takes away from Overcome... they might not fit well in the same set. I'm pretty sure design would replace this one because of the awkward conflict of interest with Overcome (which is a cooler card). Seeing that is very design level 5, so they shouldn't come down too hard on you for it. It's a solid design. (And maybe they're not all that close.)

RR01 – Overthrow
4RR
Sorcery
Preeminence – Each player sacrifices X permanents, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

Uh, oh, this is also too close to Overcome to be in the same set. Again, it is a good design, and maybe it plays differently enough from Overcome (people will sac some lands and try to keep their creatures alive) but probably the outcome of those games will be the same - the caster's one big guy stomps around afterwards. The second problem this has is that it's a black card, not a red card. Why not destroy X lands? (It might be an unfun card, but at least it would work out better in the cycle.) Perhaps a mass Act of Treason: "Until end of turn, gain control of each creature with power less than X where X is the highest power among creatures you control. Untap those creatures, They gain haste until end of turn." There are plenty of other red effects you could have tried here.

RG01 – Overwork
3GGG
Sorcery
Preeminence – Put X +1/+1 counters on each creature you control, where X is the highest power among creatures you control.

You got totally hosed that Overwhelming Stampede was printed in M11. Because if it didn't, you would clearly have come up with it here and gotten solid credit for it. Green does want this kind of effect every other set, so this is a fine design.

Overall I'm afraid for you this week. I haven't looked at the other four submissions yet, but this is not a stellar  set of cycles. Your commons are vanilla, and while that might actually be perfect for the set, and they might love it, they may see it as a lack of design. Your uncommon cycle is astrocious. It's really a common cycle, and making cantrips was a very bad decision that you should have known to avoid. Brace yourself for the R&D comments next week.

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