Fixing Old Cards: The Power Nine

Since the first part of this series has been met with moderate interest (read it if you want to know what this is about), I felt motivated enough to do a second, greatly improving the chances that this will actually develop into a series.

This time, I will take a look at the Power Nine.


The blue cards

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Here Wizards have already done what needed to be done and created fixed version of these cards, which I am completely fine with:

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The Moxes

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Again, Wizards have already fixed those cards:

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While this cycle is okay, I believe that with modern design technology we can do better. There are two aspects I want to improve:

1. The Diamonds feel just a little too slow to convey the vibe of jolting your mana which the Moxes were aiming for. There is still room for upgrading them, as the strictly superior Coldsteel Heart shows – they offer no bonus for locking you into getting a specific color from the beginning.

2. I like to tie them closer to their colors. Especially in limited, the Diamonds may get used off-color just for ramping, and because of that very extra ramping utility they might also be used to splash colors with little cost. I’d prefer them to be in-color picks. On the other hand, closer color ties allow for pushing them a little more with regard to the first aspect.


Therefore, my designs are aimed at providing efficient in-color ramp:

Mox Emerald

Mox Jet

Mox Pearl

Mox Ruby

Mox Sapphire


Black Lotus



Here, Wizards have printed several variants of this card’s original design, but none of those really capture its initial function. For example:

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My design:

Black Lotus

(Yes, I upgraded the „of any one color“ part, because I feel that the option to mix colors fits the flavor better. Then again, I am not responsible for designing the Magic Online interface for this card where you would have to choose between 35 possible combinations…)

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15 Gedanken zu „Fixing Old Cards: The Power Nine

  1. Simon sagt:

    I like your ideas of the moxes for the right setting.

    I for one would like to see:

    Mox Emerald – C

    Mox Emerald enters the battlefield tapped.
    T: Add G to your mana pool.

    • Zeromant sagt:

      Edited your post to show the mana cost („C“ is now official shorthand for one colorless mana).

      I’m afraid your version of the Moxes is still broken, though…

      • Simon sagt:

        Agree, they are very powerful, but even the Diamonds are too powerful for T2 according to WotC.

        How about 1C and not etb tapped?

        It’s very hard to find a sweet spot for mana artifacts

        • Simon sagt:

          With 1C they are ofc very similar to your versions. But i don’t really like colored artifacts tbf.

          • Zeromant sagt:

            I like colored artifacts if they are closely tied to their colors mechanically. That is my issue with your version: A deck would play as many of those Moxes as it wanted for ramp, regardless of the colors they produce (okay, that would be a bonus).

            This is also one reason they are (or were – not sure how current that line of thinking is) considered too strong for standard. Another is that permanents (creatures and planeswalkers, mostly) for 4-6 mana are so strong nowadays (and removal is so weak). I, for one, would prefer to play with Diamonds instead of planeswalkers, though, and ramp into less powerful creatures.

  2. Spiggy sagt:

    Hallo Andreas,

    schön, wieder etwas zum Thema Card Design von Dir zu lesen. Mir gefallen Deine Designs in aller Regel sehr gut.

    Zu den Moxen:

    ich stimme Simon zu, auch mir würde eine Casting Cost ohne Farbbeschränkung besser gefallen. Dann könnte das Artefakt rampen und fixen.
    Ich hatte vor langer Zeit in einem random „Build yor own card“-Thread mal die Variante:

    Artifact 2
    T: Add G to your mana pool. Use this abilitiy only, if you control a forest.
    T: Add C to your mana pool.

    Durch die jetzt aufgekommene Änderung mit dem farblosen Mana müsste man allerdings noch mal prüfen, ob die Karte so nicht zu gut ist.


    • Zeromant sagt:

      Hi Spiggy, danke für Deinen Kommentar!

      Normalerweise spare ich mir solche nichtssagenden Repliken, aber da ich ansonsten eine Antwort unter so ziemlich jeden anderen Post gesetzt habe, sieht das sonst so aus, als würde ich ausgerechnet Dich ignorieren, nur weil ich bei Dir gerade nichts Dringendes zu sagen hatte…

      Nun will ich aber die Gelegenheit nutzen, darauf hinzuweisen, dass Dein Design das gleiche Problem hätte wie Simons. (Und ja, die Option, farbloses Mana zu bekommen, macht solche Karten unterdessen erheblich stärker.) Ansonsten ist die „only if you control a forest“ Klausel eine denkbare Alternative zu farbigen Manakosten, aber ich sehe darin keine Vorteile bezüglich Spielbarkeit oder Ästhetik. Die Einsatzmöglichkeit der Karten würde dadurch übrigens durchaus spürbar noch ein wenig eingeschränkt, denn ein „echter“ Forest im Spiel ist eine erheblich stärkere Anforderung als einmalig grünes Mana. Wenn man das möchte (zum Beispiel in einem Block wie Shadowmoor), ist diese Formulierung ein gut gangbarer Weg, aber gerade zu den Moxen passt das meiner Ansicht nach vom Flair her eigentlich nicht. (Und die Fähigkeit, für farbloses Mana zu tappen, hebelt diese zusätzliche Anforderung auch zum größten Teil aus – in dieser Kombination gefällt mir Deine Variante also generell nicht.)

  3. Simon sagt:

    Yeah nowadays ramping is the big problem with all the powerful 4+ mana spells. Back in the days you played those mana cards to cast multiple spells a turn (earlier than opponents) instead. Both are similar problems.

    The other question is: Are mana Stones really needed in the game or do we think Magic needs them because they were in the game since forever? Ramping should probably be just green + maybe one other color depending on the environment. I could see this fluctuating between red and black.

    • Zeromant sagt:

      Philosophically, I like ramp in colorless even more than in Green. That is because ramp is a fundamental Magic strategy, just like aggro and control. It’s okay if Green does it a little better, but it should be there for all colors.

  4. jashinc sagt:

    I am asking myself if

    Draw three cards.

    would be ok…

    (by the way Jace’s Ingeniuty can’t target other players. Ancestral Recall can….)

    • Zeromant sagt:

      It would probably be borderline okay, but it’s the kind of card that can not be printed at every time without warping standard. For example, when either mana bases are very good, or mono-blue already is, it would be omnipresent. Concentrate as an instant is really powerful! If the triplecolored cost constitutes a real disadvantage, it should be okay, though. (Compare Treasure Cruise in standard right now to its position in larger formats to get a feeling for how much context matters with power level.)

      I actually don’t care all that much about the ability to target other players. The ability to help out teammates may be fine, but I’m not a fan of designing cards specifically for multiplayer formats. Note also that this extra power might actually require the card to cost more, since getting a teammate from – for example – two to five cards is a lot more valuable than drawing three when you already have six in hand yourself, especially since you can bypass color weaknesses this way by combining Blue’s card draw with the ability of a non-blue deck to fire off relevant spells quickly.

      As for targeting the opponent, I really hate milling as a win condition, and I hate combo decks designed around letting the opponent draw cards even more. (Yes, I hate Howling Mine, too. I’ve not encountered a single deck in my life where Howling Mine belonged, that wasn’t an unfun, non-interactive abomination!) That covers 99% of all situations where you would want your opponent to draw cards.

      For these reasons, I consider the elegance of „you draw“ actually an improvement over „target player draws“, although it precludes the possibility of redirecting (which is an interesting interaction). But even if I slightly preferred the targetted version, I would have considered Jace’s Ingenuity enough spot-on that there is no need to design a new version of that card. Oh, and I did not consider an 1UUU cost for a redesign because my goal is not to squeeze out every last possible percentage point of possible card power, and because the point of that card is to be a staple blue effect which you can run in all „normal“ decks with blue. The demands of a triple-colored cost on a four-mana spell prohibit that use.

      • Nico sagt:

        What would be about:

        Ancestral Recall
        Each player draws three cards.


        Instant-speed is probably still far too good.

        By the way, I like this new series! Actually, I am surprised a litte bit, how hard it is to design a card that is
        1. not too strong
        2. not too weak
        3. hasn’t been printed yet
        4. and to evaluate the strength (or weakness, respectively) of this card theoretically 😉

        • jashinc sagt:

          Up to now this effekt costs 1U for only two cards (Vision Skeins)…

        • Zeromant sagt:

          This card is broken. It would also be broken for two mana, and dangerously powerful even at three.

          The thing is, you cannot evaluate cards only for „normal“ or „fair“ scenarios. You need to ask yourself what the strongest use for a card is. With card draw, the answer will almost always be „in a combo deck“. (And really, why would you want to play a card that is actually card disadvantage relative to your opponent, if not in a combo deck?)

          Note that I use „combo“ in the broad sense of „needing specific key cards to win in a non-interactive way“. If that is your approach, the cards you draw are generally a lot more valuable than the cards your opponents draw, because those likely do not allow them to interact with your game plan (if they even get the opportunity to cast them in the first place).

          There is an urban legend (it might actually even be true) about an exchange between Mark Rosewater and Zvi Mowshowitz about the card Meditate:

          MaRo (replying to a complaint from Zvi about Meditate being overpowered): „You don’t understand. On their next turn, the opponent can…“

          Zvi (interrupting): „No, Mark, YOU don’t understand. THERE IS NO NEXT TURN.“

          (He went on to prove his point by designing the infamous TurboZvi deck. Google it if you don’t know it!)

          The lesson here is that drawing cards is so powerful in some strategies that even effective card disadvantage as a result does not really mitigate it, as Prosperity (you’ve heard of ProsBloom, have you?) or Bazaar of Baghdad have proven. For that reason, shaving one mana off to make up for the risk of falling behind if your game plan doesn’t work is the maximum one should even consider when designing such a card.

          I, however, would never seriously design something like that. Take this example:

          Ancestral Something – 1UU
          Each player draws three cards.

          This is what I call a „Phyrexian Dreadnaught design“ – it is unplayable in all fair decks, but potentially broken in unfair decks. In the right environment, it MIGHT only enable a combo deck which is just good enough to be played without warping the environment TOO much, but chances are that you will not manage to pinpoint it exactly enough for that. (Also, I do not WANT to specifically enable non-interactive decks, ever.)

          Your design which draws three cards for only a single mana is just BBB (broken beyond belief).

          • Nico sagt:

            The TurboZvi deck is nice, I didn’t know that before.

            Maybe I just underestimate the strength of certain cards in combo decks because I am only used to play highlander, commander and tiny leaders where combo decks are probably less common.

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