Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monster Making, Part 3

Disclaimer: This article contains custom card designs. If you are a Wizards of the Coast employee you have my full permission to use any designs or ideas within this article without my explicit written consent or prior knowledge, or without giving me any sort of credit. I love this game and I want to help it in any way I can.


Here we are at part 3 of 3 of my series of Skaab designs. The first time, I showed off some Vorthosian ideas. Next were some more bottom-up (mechanic first) designs. This week, I'm going to show you some ways to tie them all together; ways to get cards into your graveyard.

Let's get started!
Mill Windfall. Simple enough. I added Flashback, because I didn't think the original card offered enough to be playable alot off the time.

 I like Moroii. I like designing Moroii like monsters. Here's one that mills. Part of me wants to make this UB so it mirrors Moroii better.
 Honestly, I thought of the punny name, and was just looking for a place to stick it. I think Mark Rosewater would be proud. Man loves his puns.
 Inverted Gravedigger. I'm genuinely surprised this has never been done before.

I had actually forgotten about Corpse Connoisseur when I designed this, I just wanted a mirrored Gravedigger.
Art by Dermot Power.
Not sure what to say here.
Again, I thought I was being clever when I came up with this, but Morality Shift is already a thing. ):
Aw well, I like the flavor.

 We've seen that Innistrad has some manner of insane asylums. I wanted to see what kind of person would live there.
I must say, I've grown rather fond of this design. I might have to make a cycle out of it...
Boosh.How ya like them apples?

The first design I came up with when designing self-mill cards for this article. It occured to me that blue-black doesn't have a bevy of self-mill enabling generals despite being in one of the best positions to abuse the mechanic.

I'm rather pleased with these cards, though I will say that coming up with blue-self milling cards was a lot easier than the other colors. I might have to make a part 4 some day with some non-blue cards.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monster Making, Part 2

Disclaimer: This article contains custom card designs. If you are a Wizards of the Coast employee you have my full permission to use any designs or ideas within this article without my explicit written consent or prior knowledge, or without giving me any sort of credit. I love this game and I want to help it in any way I can.

Last time, I showed you some skaabs.
This time I show you some more.

Most of the designs from last week were from a flavor first perspective. Many of these are from a more mechanics focused perspective, so bare with me if some of them are hard to process, flavorfully.

Location: Your choice.
Action: Show a skaab. This skaab is considerably more 'normal' looking than the typical skaab. It's normally proportioned, it doesn't appear to have any weapons or animal parts built into its frame. It's wearing normal clothes. Were it not for its obvious deadness, it would appear all the world like a normal person. Show it interacting with some frightened people. It would seem a skabaren as an act of vengeance, resurrected someone of significance, and set that person to their home to horrify that persons loved ones.
Focus: The people terrified by their loved one brought back in such a manner.

Mood: But you're supposed to be dead!

I'll be honest, this might be a bit too powerful, considering how easy it is to get something dangerous into a graveyard rather than onto the battlefield.
 Location: Unimportant
Action: Show a skaab wandering about. This skaab seems fairly typical save for the enormous geist-tank strapped to its back. The skabaren who created this beast appears to be experimenting with a new power source for his monsters, and this one is getting a field test.
Focus: The glowing, lava lampish device strapped to its back.

Mood: Unstable power source

Here, I wanted to further extend my idea of skaabs exiling things other than creatures to be cast. I'll be honest, I think this design space is a bit more shallow than I thought it might be.
 Location: Unimportant
Action: Show a skaab in combat with two people. This skaab is unique in that its hands are on the end of two grappling hook like devices grafted onto its arms.
Focus: the long weaponized arms.
Mood: Well that was unexpected...

What's better than a tapdown creature? A double tap-down creature.
 Location: A mausoleum.
Action: Show a particularly resourceful skaab looting a mausoleum. It's taking a choosing the choosiest bits from the people buried there, and grafting them into its body.
Focus: The skaab, sewing bits into itself.
Mood; I'm the best of the best.

Seems simple enough.
 Location: A skabaren's laboratory.
Action: Show a homunculus, a creepy looking little cyclops often used as assistants by the various mad scientists on innistrad, sewing up a skaab. This little fellow has been given the duty of fixing his master's creations after a battle.
Focus: The homunculus, hard at work.
Mood; Mr. fix-it.

A cute little tribal enabler. Not much to say.
 Location: unimportant.
Action: Show a horrific looking multi-segmented skaab. This creature is a series of torsos sewn together, giving the appearance of a caterpillar made of dead people.

Focus: the monster in all its horrific glory
Mood; Some things should not be.

Do I really need to say it?
Location: the dance hall of a grand, opulent mansion
Action: Show a party of sorts being thrown by a group of skabaren. They've gathered together to show off their latest creations and are having a contests of sorts to see who's come up with the most horrific monstrosities.
Mood: The worst kind of party

I must say I was immensly pleased with myself when I thought up this card. It's one of my favorite designs I've ever done!

Let me know what you all think!

Join me next time, when I show off some self-milling enablers to help you cast all these monsters in the first place!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Monster Making

Disclaimer: This article contains custom card designs. If you are a Wizards of the Coast employee you have my full permission to use any designs or ideas within this article without my explicit written consent or prior knowledge, or without giving me any sort of credit. I love this game and I want to help it in any way I can.

Blue zombies!
Frankensteinian monsters made out of dead people!

Innistrad is so cool like that eh?

I've had a fascination with these monsters since I saw the first previews.

I love fatties, and I love how they found a way to give blue fatties at all rarities that are A) playable and B) make sense flavorfully C) make sense  mechanically [blue mills, its the easiest color to get critters in your own yard with].

Given that there's only one more set in Innistrad block, and it seems apparent that the humans are going to be fighting back with all their might, I'm not sure just how many more Skaabs we're going to get. ):

So I tried my  hand at designing a bunch.

I also tried my hand at something new; art descriptions. Some of the ideas I had are fairly high concept, and the flavor might not be readily apparent at a first glance.
Location: The back alleys of a victorian town.
Action: Show a humanoid skaab (frankenstein monster) hiding in a back alley. around the corner you can see a mob or the silhouette of one. The skaab is in the act of unzipping its skin; it has a variety of skin-suits that it can put on and take off. This skaab was built for infiltration.
Focus: The skaab, changing out of a disguise.
Mood: You'll never find me...

Some of you might not like the idea of a one drop 2 power unblockable creature, but you have to consider that this isn't really a one drop. It is impossible for a deck that wants this sort of creature to cast it on turn 1, so its effectively a 2 or 3 drop. Kind of like Serra Avenger.

Location: A village tavern or similar
Action: Show the front door of a large public building being knocked down. In the doorway stands a horrific two-headed skaab. This grotesque creature appears to have been stitched together from two separate men right down the middle. Maybe it has two pairs of arms.
Focus: The zombie busting down the door.
Mood: Inevitability.

I'm rather pleased with this creature. The flavor and mechanics come together so well. This was originally a five drop, but the cost of exiling two creatures from your yard is steep enough that I felt it would be okay as a 4-drop.

Also, this originally could block an additional creature Foriys style, but that ability is almost entirely in white these days, and it took up way more space than I wanted on a limited workhorse.

 Location: A Nephalian dockyard.
Action: Show a Skaab lurking under a dock. This skaab looks fairly unassuming from the waist down, but from the middle of the torso and up, it has the head of a hammerhead shark stitched on. The skabaren that made this creature appears to have attempted to make a monster that can fight in the seas. Perhaps it has other modifications like a fish's tail or webbed hands and fins.
Focus: This zombie has a shark's head.
Mood: No matter where you go, there are skaabs.

This design was less about mechanics, that it was flavor. The previous Skaabs are all cool and all, and they've taken some weird avenues when it comes to some Skaabs ascetics. I just wanted to take those avenues further. Why wouldn't the Skabaren incorporate Innistrad's wildlife into their monstrosities?

 Location: Unimportant
Action: Show a skaab lurching into action. This skaab is fairly normal (as far as skaabs go) save for its right arm, which, from the elbow down has been replaced with the pincer of a fortress crab, a species of crab native to Innistrad as big as a building. This claw is utterly enormous; almost as big as the rest of the creature and drags along the ground. The claw is throwing off the zombie's balance, giving it a hobbling limping walk as it drags it along.
Mood: You wouldn't want to get hit with that.

This actually was not designed as an extension of the wildlife zombies I was talking about above, but as an inverse of Headless Skaab. I was trying to figure out a good draw back for a 3-drop 6 power creature, and having a weird untap cycle seemed like a good fit. Then I thought of what kind of zombie would have a huge power and weird untapping, and I figured something with a unnaturally large unwieldy arm might. Why not the arm of a Fortress Crab? Then it hit me: Perfection. Being a crab-armed zombie would not only give me an excuse to have a big power monster with weird untappingness, but also an excuse to give it the capacity to untap itself. Brilliant!!!

 Location: the woods
Action: show a skaab "werewolf". While a werewolf can never become a zombie (whenever a werewolf dies, it reverts to its natural human form), some deranged skabaran has sure tried to replicate what one might look like. Larch parts of this creature's body are grafted with wolf parts, so it looks all the world like a patchwork werewolf. It is been released into the wild to simulate its likeness.
Mood: Not the real thing, but just as dangerous.

Pretty straight forward. I don't know what else I can say here.

 Location: An opulent manor, currently the abode of a derange skabaren.
Action: Show a group of monster hunters under siege by an enormous skaab. The skaab had the element of surprise on them, because it looks completely unlike any other skaab. While most skaabs are built as machines of war, this appears to have been a work of "art". It has no legs, in place it is attached to a pedestal. From the waist up, it is a derange mismatch of Innistradi wildlife. Maybe it has antlers, or bears paws, or a boar's head. Feathers, and claws, and weird fur patterns. Its up to you! Just make it weird and make it dynamic!
Mood: This does NOT belong in a museum.

I think the art description speaks for itself. For some of the designs of these skaabs, I looked back at another popular blue tribe with painful drawbacks; illusions. In this case, this creature was crafted as the zombie equivalent of Phantasmal Abomination. The losing defender ability came about due to the card's concepting as a zombie strapped to a bust. The idea is that at a later date the skabaren might decide to give it a proper pair of legs.

 Location: unimportant.
Action: Show a skaab lurking, about to pounce on some unsuspecting prey. This skaab looks fairly typical from the waist up, but from the waist down, in place of legs, it has the body of a tremendous snake. This is some poor fool's worst nightmare.
Mood: Why did it have to be snakes?...

Originally this guy had intimidate instead of feral skaab, but I decided I wanted a wolf zombie and a snake zombie. I decided the wolf zombie had the greater need to have intimidate than this guy, but then what should this guy have? He had to have some leg up on Makeshift Mauler. It dawned on me that there is a history of snakes that draw cards when they deal damage. Bada bing, bada doom. Snake zombie.

 Locaton: A skabaren's laboratory
Action: Show a skaab brandishing its weapons at an unwelcomed guest. This monster's maker has attached a cornicopia of dangerous implements to this creatures forearms. They look like a tray of dentists tools from hell.
Mood: Your worst nightmare.

Weird abstract design. I realize that this has terrible anti-synergy with equipment (creatures cannot become attached to other permanents), which is terribly ironic given the flavor. I think it might be worth it for the sheer weirdness of the design.

Mood: Somewhere on fire.
Action: Oh Merry Christmas, some skabaren's been getting frisky. What you see before you is less a zombie, and more a tank. Its legs have cowcatches attached. There is a furnace built into its chest, and smokestacks sticking out of its back. It has numerous glowing lights and flickering meters meaning lord knows what. It has 3 arms on each side of its body attached to rotating pivots. Each arm ending in some different kind of bludgeoning, or stabbing, or grabbing or crushing implement.
Mood: Half-zombie, half freight train!!!

All aboard the dead train! The idea for this card came about during a design session for the devils I talked about last week. I was thinking about Ball Lightning variants, and various designs that would allow the creature to attack for oodles and then have some sort of mechanic to keep it from dying at end of turn. For the devil in question, I was working with sacrificing other creatures. It seemed interesting, but didn't feel very, idunno, right. It didnt play quite how I wanted, so I put it on the backburner to fiddle with.
During the skaab design session, I decided to try exiling creatures from graveyards (something Skaab decks want to do anyway) instead of sacrificing creatures, and this card came about.

I have more on the way, but I felt like getting an article out.
Let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Devil's Work.

Disclaimer: This article contains custom card designs. If you are a Wizards of the Coast employee you have my full permission to use any designs or ideas within this article without my explicit written consent or prior knowledge, or without giving me any sort of credit. I love this game and I want to help it in any way I can.

So Dark Ascension has come and brought a whole bunch of new goodies to Magic. Among them were a bunch of new devils in red, following suite from Innistrad.

And you know what?

I love them.

I don't know what it is about them, but I love those horrid little monsters. Maybe it's because they represent all of the 'mean' aspects of red, without having to worry about representing a sentient race like goblins. Maybe it's because it lets red have a flip side to black's demons and imps. Maybe it's because they look like cute little monkies that are on fire and they hate you.
Whatever it is, devils have rapidly become one of my favorite creature types. Second, possibly, only to trolls.

Here's a bunch of them I designed to reflect my newfound obsession!
2 power creatures for one mana. Let's get it! I consider this the logical conclusion to what Bloodcrazed Goblin was trying to accomplish.

Devils seem like they would favor chaotic experiences. A random Swerve effect seems fairly chaotic to me.

I designed this as the inverse to Kor Firewalker, which I loathe with a passion. Mostly because it's so darn hard for red decks to effectively deal with.

I think this makes an interesting counterpoint to Kiln Fiend. Kiln Fiend is better off in more aggressive strategies since it works better with cheap spells. But this guy does more work in games that might last longer when you're casting more expensive things like Into the Maw of Hell or Blood Feud.

Wizards tends to shy away from really cheap effects that can convert creatures into another valuable resource. The last creature-to-mana card that I can recall was the 5-drop Thermopod. I want to see how aggressively I can push this sort of resource engine.

I'm genuinely surpised this hasn't happened yet. The Goblin War Drum effect is one of red's most interesting form of evasion (plus one of the few that's almost entirely based in red), and it works so well with an ability that warps combat in your favor like double strike.

I think red needs more opportunities to do 'clever' things.

Magic needs more Conquering Masticores!

A Rats of Rath for the new age!

The flavor here works so ridiculously well, I'm surprised this wasn't a thing before.

Let me know what you think!