Archive for the ‘Redesign: Alpha’ Category

Redesign Alpha #3: Total Recall   2 comments


So, here we are. Only two cards in and I find myself looking at our first member of the Power Nine- and making the same face as the man in the art. It’s probably one of the harder of the Power Nine to tackle, but I’ll give it a fair shot anyway. How do we make “Draw Three Cards” powerful enough to print without neutering it too much? I still want the card to have that va va voom, but just without the soulcrushing power it entails. So, the challenge here is steep- I have a feeling we might be revisiting this one later on. But for now, let’s explore what we can do.

The first step I’m taking is to remove the “Force opponent to draw three” part of the card. I agree with Zac Hill when he said that most of the time, card draw should not be targeted. (This was part of an excellent debate between him and MaRo- Zac’s side being found here.) I don’t like the clause as it is very often irrelvant and for the newer player, it just seems confusing- or could even be missed altogether and I agree with the assesment that a lot of the time it gives ‘false choice’ when the majority of Magic is player one-on-one. Secondly, from an aestehtic point of view, less text is always pleasing and makes the card read cleaner.

Setting out with this card- I want to find a way to keep the “U, Draw Three” with no drawback template. Yeah, I’ve set the bar pretty high. Two of the cards that do this currently have seen bannings in one or more formats- Ancestral Recall in everything bar Vintage (Where it’s still restricted) and Ancestral Vision, which is banned in Modern, and still good in Legacy. The most recent attempt as it stands is Visions of Beyond- which came with the rather steep cost of having 20 cards in somebodies graveyard, which is quite hard to achieve- no deck coming out of Innistrad block has yet made that dream work. I’m hoping that my version of Ancestral Recall can still be good enough to see play, but without dominating the format it is in.

My first step was to look at what draw three’s have worked in the past, what impact they had and what we can learn from them. We’re just looking at ones that allow the drawing of three cards, with [u]no[/u] discarding them afterwards. My reasoning behind this is the Draw X, Discard X has been done to death and I’m looking for our Ancestral to be fairly unique. Our first stop is Shared Discovery:

Shared Discovery

I started playing Magic during Zendikar block and this didn’t even register with me while I’ve been thinking about this until I went searching on gatherer. Oddly enough, I think this card has the potential to be extremely powerful- I’m not the biggest expert, but if this were legal now I’d be sliding a couple into Delver decks just because of the potential with Lingering Souls. However, this card made minimal impact, because generally blue doesn’t have four creatures walking around- and due to the sorcery speed, you would often find yourself opening the door to your opponent getting in a lot of damage. Prehaps we could drop the amount of creatures needed for this one and see if it has potential.

One thing I do like about this clause is that tapping creatures to draw cards feels good flavourwise for “Ancestral Recall”, as it feels as if you’re tapping into the knowledge of the creatures you control. In terms of gameplay though, it feels like it could get a bit messy, as this essentially halves the cost from Shared Discovery and because there are blue decks in which you can get two creatures out quite quickly, this could be a very early play, without needing to worry about the downside of taking lethal when you have no blockers. Even if this were printed now, it would probably be an issue. Turn One Delver, Turn Two Delver, draw three. Maybe the downside could be bigger? One thing I might toy with is tapping the creatures and then having them not untap during the next untap step to extend the drawback and see if that feels like it could balance things out. I’ll add that one to the maybe pile- for now, this probably won’t be what we choose going forward though.

So, what else is an acceptable drawback for drawing three cards?

How about losing a turn?

I’m honestly not sure how to evaluate this as a card. Would it be too good? Not good enough? Depending on when you play it, the impact of the effect varies- the earlier it is, the less you might get punished for it- but later on, can you afford to give your opponent a turn’s worth of time? Essentially you would draw 3- but you also give them an extra card drawn, an extra turn to attack…I certainly think it would be playing around in some quirky design space. It’s an interesting trade-off and what I like to see in a card- something that evolves as the game continues.

This one also intrigues me- you get more cards, but they get to develop their mana quicker and will be casting better spells sooner. Is the swing too much to risk it? What if it was 1 land they got to put in, would it then be an acceptable trade-off? I think two works. The nuance in this is that the card might be a huge risk in the early game- to put your opponent that far ahead on mana…but in the late game, where each player might have more mana then they need already, you draw three and the only benefit for them is to thin their deck a little. I think it could be a rather clever card in the right environment.

At the moment, my two picks for the file are the “Draw 3, Opponent Gets 2 Land” and the” Time Walking yourself” options. Now, I can always come back and change this, but for now I’m going for the Time Warp version. I’ll be sharing this with any readers out there, those who follow me on Twitter and the MTG Reddit. I’ll see what they say and go on from there!

This has been quite lengthy- I don’t intend on giving each card it’s own article. Next week I’ll be getting very animated tackling a trio of cards that do the same thing, but they’re all very different- Animate Artifact, Animate Dead and Animate Wall.


ReDesign #1: Alpha   Leave a comment

Hello! In an attempt to get myself writing regularly again, I’ve decided to undertake a project. A redesign, if you will. Thinking about this, I wanted to do something a bit different- not designing sole cards, or creating a new set- there are many others out there doing that. So what about Redesigning a set?

Imagine the scenario, if you will. R&D have decided that they’re going to not do M13 this year. Instead, they’re going to re-run Alpha. The task has fallen to you to update the set- so that the templating works, it’s fun and still a great introduction to the game. You have almost free reign to change what cards do, but there are some rules…

1) All the card names must stay the same.

2) Cards must try and stay faithful to what the original card did, even if it is not the same execution. (Ante cards, I’m looking at you.)

3) The set is to be designed to be as beginner-friendly as possible.

4) Cards cannot be added or removed from the set.

5) A cards colour can be changed- but when the set is complete, there must be the same amount of cards in each colours as there was in Alpha.

There’s probably other ones that will come up, but those are bridges we’ll cross when we come to them. I want the set to be a great intro for beginners, as the original Alpha must have been to launch Magic so well. I also want it to be a viable draft format- that might prove a trickier prospect, as draft didn’t exist when Alpha was first made. I want everything to be as close to Alpha as possible- just without the outdated templating and bizzarely complicated cards. I’ll be launching things off on by going through the set card-by-card, examining in great depth the changes to make- or not make and other avenues of change. It should be fun, so hopefully you’ll join me on next week when we start by taking a look at the basic composition of the set and the first card: Air Elemental (Here’s a hint- it’s probably one of the better designed cards in the set already.)

It’s not an April Fools!