Schlagwort-Archiv: Arabian Nights

Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights Red

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

Due to the positive feedback for this series (yes, that really makes all the difference!), I will keep it up at least a little longer. However, I am considering a more fundamental change to my blogging activities which would affect fixing cards as well, but that is still in the earliest phase of consideration.

Ali from Cairo

Ali from Cairo Original

So, what we have here is an especially terrible card name, even if you accept that it references a literal figure from an earth-based story. It just means „an Ali from the story who is not Ali Baba, and about whom we do not know enough to differentiate him other than by mentioning that he stems from Cairo, which Ali Baba doesn’t, as you should realize now if you weren’t aware of it before“.

The card is supposed to play up the fact that this Ali had been rather fortunate in his life, although skimming over the story I did not find a situation where he had a near escape from death, just that he was a very successful merchant who started out with nothing (but pretended to be rich), borrowing some money and making enough profit with that to pay back his loans easily soon, while building up his business.

Thus, this card’s ability fails on all fronts: It does not really describe the character it portrays; it actually does not even protect Ali himself, but the player; and it has no business being in Red at all (it’s clearly white, as you can see on Worship). Oh, and then I’m not a fan of that kind of ability in general…

When I redid Ali’s design, I had in mind that he was a merchant, and that he also was a bit of a trickster, able to turn a bad situation he was in into a favorable one for him. I found a fitting quote in the story, and it all came together.

My design:

Ali from Cairo

Desert Nomads

Desert Nomads Original

When I had first thought about that card, I had just assumed I would give it protection from lands or something similar, since referencing a single card is just too narrow a design (and no modern expansion would feature any utility land at a rarity more frequent than common anymore). But then I created my version of Desert – and protection does not even help against that! Well, I had put myself into a bind there, and needed to find a different way to counter that land’s effect on these nomads. As it turned out, the simplest solution worked well enough. Note that I consciously forewent any kind of landwalk, which is a problematic ability in limited (that’s not to say it’s great in constructed).

My design:

Desert Nomads

Ydwen Efreet

Ydwen Efreet Original

This card is named after a friend of Richard Garfield, Wendy, who married another friend of him, Jamie – so now you also know where the name Mijae Djinn comes from!

I do not like the following things about this design: First of all, the coin flip, which I not only despise in general but is also especially problematic here because of timing issues. Then, the ability is kinda irrelevant, since red decks will gladly just attack with their 3/6 creature for three mana. I’m also not a fan of triple-mana costs unless there is a good reason for them, which I do not spot here.

I decided to stay away from a design aimed at constructed, and instead create a card which would play interestingly in limited. My version of the Efreet actually even entices you to leave it back on blocking duty – of course, it might get bounced, but if that doesn’t happen (and chances are good that it won’t), your opponent just attacked into a 3/6 blocker. Still, the ability is a real disadvantage, especially when playing against evasion creatures, but then again, the stats of my version are still a bit over the curve in limited, so he should be worth the risk.

My design:

Ydwen Efreet

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Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights Blue

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

I held this entry back for a few days, because Ormus (the site’s admin) asked me to, so that his worldwide exclusive preview content for Shadows over Innistrad would not get, well, overshadowed, I guess…

 

Flying Men

Flying Men Original

To be honest, I like even filler cards in limited to be just a tad more powerful than this, but the 1/1 flyer for 1 mana with no strings attached can be perfectly serviceable in the right environment, so I didn’t feel compelled to do a redesign here. It would be nice, though, if this human sported a class-based creature type, too – wizard, warrior or even rogue would do.

 

Merchant Ship

Merchant Ship Original

Incredibly weak, featuring the terrible islandhome ability (not spelled out yet on the card, though, and not in its Oracle wording since that ability has been discontinued), and violating the color pie by giving Blue lifegain: I definitely had to go back to the drawboard for this card. Luckily, the concept of trading can be described in game terms in a very blue way.

My design:

Merchant Ship

 

Old Man of the Sea

Old Man of the Sea Original

That card is just perfect – one of my favorite designs from Arabian Nights! Just like with Juzam Djinn, it’s only the price tag which keeps this creature out of my Limited Card Pool.

 

Serendib Djinn

Serendib Djinn Original

Yes, I get it, djinns are dangerous; and I actually miss that kind of design in the modern age of undercosted all-upside creatures; but somehow this card doesn’t click with me. Why does it want me to play with non-islands? Additionally, I feel that such a big disadvantage should be possible to be cheated: On the basic level, you get a creature which might kill your opponent fast, but if it fails, it will lose you the game – so far, so good. I miss a second level, though, where you can use another card to negate its downside – something like Spirit Link, for instance. Also, the card plays just more interestingly if its controller has a choice each turn – do they value that land higher than preserving their life total? With the original card, you just play it and then watch it win the game either for you or your opponent. My design feels more like you are still playing the game yourself, even if you have to navigate some very tough decisions.

One final consideration was if this kind of creature belongs in Blue at all. Normally, Black and Red are designated for such a creature concept. But if an expansion has a specific theme, it is okay if the colors bend a little to acommodate it; and dangerous, powerful djinns were very much the main theme of Arabian Nights. Because of this, creatures damaging their controller are fine here in every color except White in my book (and white creatures could get a comparable, different disadvantage instead).

My design:

Serendib Djinn

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Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights Green

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

I’ll very probably keep going until I have finished Arabian Nights, but I’m yet undecided if I should proceed to Antiquities afterwards.

 

Drop of Honey

Drop of Honey Original

While I do not especially like this card concept, it works under its current Oracle wording. The issue, however, is that this is not a green effect. It has been reprinted in White as Porphyry Nodes, but since Planar Chaos was explicitly about colorshifting cards from their core color identity to a fringe color identity, it is possible that Wizards do not consider this effect truly white either – if so, my best guess would be that it’s black.

Anyway, my task was to find a similar card concept which works both in Green and with the card name (which is referring to a story from One Thousand and One Nights, where a drop of honey attracts a couple of flies, who then attract a bird eating them, who attracts a cat catching it, and so on, until the whole region is at war). Well, we know Green allows you to destroy creatures if your own creatures are somehow involved, so this wasn’t too hard.

My design:

Drop of Honey

 

Ifh-Biff Efreet

Ifh-Biff Efreet Original

This card showcases very well how different (and less precisely defined) the color pie – which didn’t have that name then – was in Magic’s early days. Direct damage in Green is an absolute no-go today, and Green isn’t supposed to get flying creatures with any regularity either (although I strongly disagree with this philosophy). Also, the Efreet is way too powerful if you’re ahead, and even if not, way too suppressive towards opposing flying creatures. If an opponent actually has access to green mana, however, there are situations where it is flat out unplayable or outright killing you in short order if already on the battlefield, which is just too much risk for a good design. Lastly, I really do not like permanents whose abilities can be activated by all players.

Identifying its core aspects, this card is meant to be an efficient aggressive creature doing double duty as a weapon against flyers, whose deployment poses a significant risk to its controller (a prevalent theme in Arabian Nights). I just had to measure out these aspects correctly for a well-balanced limited creature.

My design:

Ifh-Biff Efreet

 

Singing Tree

Singing Tree Original

Really, isn’t this one of the most terrible artworks ever? It might do for a basic Forest – but where is a singing tree in here?

That issue aside, this card is just unattractive even in limited. Also, there are already more than enough cards in Arabian Nights which impede flyers, and the flavor here doesn’t explain this mechanic. Thus, I decided to create a powerful rare with a more generally useful ability instead – in fact, so powerful that I had to make this tree legendary to preclude having two of them on the battlefield!

My design:

Singing Tree

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Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights Black

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

Okay, I’ll keep going, at least for for the moment.

 

Guardian Beast

Guardian Beast Original

This ability is needlessly complicated. It’s also not black, but white (see Fountain Watch, Leonin Abunas and Indomitable Archangel.) I took a page from Disciple of the Vault for a black artifact-related ability.

My design:

Guardian Beast

 

Juzam Djinn

Juzam Djinn Original

I absolutely love that card as is! (And no, it doesn’t cost only 2 mana. Look closely!) This is probably at the top of my list of cards which I want to have in my Limited Card Pool but can’t (or at least are too sensible to) afford.

 

Khabal Ghoul

Khabal Ghoul Original

Here, the one thing I’d like to change (the creature type has already been errata’d to Zombie) is the mana cost – I feel this card should require double-black mana. I do not feel strongly enough about this, tough, that I think it merits a redesign, so I’ll leave it be.

 

Oubliette

Oubliette Original

Another card which is worded incredibly weird – in fact, so weird that at one time it had been errata’d to phase the creature out! And all that just so that it would keep its auras and counters if it came back. Well, there is a much easier way to do this. It’s in the domain of White, though, but if we add just the right amount of black-flavored cruelty, we can make it work. Oh yes, the resulting card is overall (but not strictly) stronger – you’d better free that creature from its prison soon, or you do not need to bother anymore.

My design:

Oubliette

 

Stone-Throwing Devils

Stone-Throwing Devils Original

Here my only issue is power level. While 1-mana 1/1s with a combat-related ability can be useful in limted environments, that ability needs to be somewhere in the realm between deathtouch and flying. First strike is just not good enough. I like the card concept, though, and I believe that ability is still tertiary in Black (at least it should be), so I just added a little more oomph in a devilish-feeling way.

My design:

Stone-Throwing Devils

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Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights White

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

Wow, interest in this series waned abruptly, and once again I notice how much my motivation to blog is tied to getting feedback. (Which I still believe to be the norm among non-commercial bloggers.) Well, I had already started with this entry, so I finished it, but it just might be the last.

 

Army of Allah

Army of Allah Original

The biggest issue with this card is obviously its name. Aside from that, it would definitely be printable as is, although the restriction to attacking creatures isn’t especially white, and its power level is a bit below what we can expect – the staple card fulfilling this function nowadays is Fortify, after all. I actually consider another card the closest to an update, though, because of the religious connotations of the original, since it is tied closer to the color White:

 

Guardians' Pledge Original

 

Camel

Camel Original

Neither abilitiy of this card could be saved – banding is just way too complicated. Also, specifically referring to another card by name isn’t something I feel is good game design. (Okay, there is some merit in giving inexperienced players a direction in both limited and casual deckbuilding by pointing them that explicitly towards certain combos, but I still hate this, and it’s not what Camel does anyway.) Oh yes, and with my redesigned Desert that ability would of course be totally meaningless!

So, once again, I had to fall back on the card’s flavor, which is about helping your other creatures to survive harsh conditions. Actually, camels are themselves rather tough beasts, so I reflected that, too.

My design:

Camel2

 

Jihad

Jihad Original

That’s probably the greatest card name ever… on the causing trouble scale, at least. Apart from that, I’m not happy with this card’s mechanical execution. That is a very demanding mana cost here, and it is totally fine if an enchantment with that cost just gives +2/+1 to all of your creatures. Instead, though, there are no less than three disadvantages tacked onto it: The bonus only affects white creatures; it also affects your opponent’s creatures; and most importantly, your opponent (even a specifically chosen opponent in a multiplayer game) must have permanents of a specifically chosen color on the battlefield at all times, or you have to sacrifice your enchantment. That last stipulation alone makes this card essentially unplayable in constructed, but even in limited that is a real issue (in addition to that forbidding mana cost), since you will often attack with a superior force, only to lose your attackers after combat to your opponent’s smaller creatures because those take your stats-boosting enchantment with them if they all die.

I believe that Jihad’s mana cost is already enough of a hoop to jump through, and that it is also doing a fine job of conveying the card’s flavor all by itself in conjunction with its name. Note also that jihad is a religious duty which does not end with the defeat of an enemy (or even requires an enemy, for that matter), but needs to be upheld continuously. So I decided that all that was needed was cleaning this card up, and created a design for those limited environments where its mana cost can be supported at least by some decks.

My design:

Jihad

 

King Suleiman

King Suleiman Original

Hating on specific creature tribes is another misguided concept in my opinion. It makes for terrible limited play, and produces fringe sideboard cards for constructed at best. Djinns and especially efreets being rather seldomly used creature types (Khans of Tarkir block notwithstanding) doesn’t make this any better.

The origin of this mechanic is the Islamic interpretation of King Suleiman as the ruler over jinns, and I see no need that this rulership expresses itself in killing them. However, positive interactions face the issue that djinns, efreets and demons are just not white creature tribes in Magic, so I looked for other hooks. Suleiman is generally described as wise, wealthy and powerful, and he is said to control the winds, which gave me more than enough to work with.

My design:

King Suleiman2

 

Moorish Cavalry

Moorish Cavalry Original

This card feels definitely out of flavor for White with modern sensibilities, but in fact each color is allowed to have trample, although White is probably making the least use of it. Its power level is low, even for limited, but it is still a perfectly usable creature, and if there were specific reasons to put in into a set (for example, tribal synergies with its current creature type, knight), the only thing standing in the way would, once again, be its name. Apart from that, this design is acceptable as is.

 

Shahrazad

Shahrazad Original

So, this card is about playing a game within the game to reflect the concept of a story told within a story. No matter how adorable that design might look, it plays absolutely horrible. So, what to do?

Well, the story of Shahrazad is that of a young woman fated to get executed the next day, but prolonging her life by telling the king who would have her killed stories, which turn out so entertaining that he decides to let her live for just one more day, again and again. Now that is a concept which translates nicely into game terms, I think!

My design:

Shahrazad

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Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights Artifacts

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

City in a Bottle

City in a Bottle Original

Expansion hosers are among the most stupid concepts in Magic (excluding Un-sets), only behind ante, subgaming, and manual dexterity cards. So, my mission was to design a completely new mechanic fitting the flavor concept.

My design:

City in a Bottle

Pyramids

Pyramids Original

Like with Consecrate Land, this mechanic is of dubious value, but unlike with that enchantment, I did not feel the necessity to connect my design to it at all, since it makes no sense flavorwise – how would pyramids protect lands? For me, the cardinal question was if I should change this card into a land, since pyramids are mightily big artifacts, but I decided to keep them as such and create a concept appropriate to their size.

My design:

Pyramids

(Yes, this would be a mythic rare if I was using that rarity.)

Ring of Ma’ruf

Ring of Ma'ruf Original

Getting cards from outside the game is closely behind expansion hosers on the idiocy scale for me, as is the tournament application of this mechanic which fetches a card from the sideboard. However, Wizards seem to disagree, having revisited that mechanic a couple of times, most recently on Spawnsire of Ulamog. In my opinion, though, cards which work differently in a tournament setting are a clear indication of design failure, and thus the Ring needs fundamental fixing including acquiring a new concept. We know from the story that it contains a djinn who fulfills Ma’ruf’s wishes, but turns against him when his owner foolishly lends the ring to seomeone else, so this is what I got to work with.

My design:

Ring of Maruf

Sandals of Abdallah

Sandals of Abdallah Original

Giving a creature islandwalk is just not an effect any limited environment wants, so once again a new mechanic was needed. I was unable to find a specific source for this card concept, but it seems obvious that a pair of magical sandals would provide its wearer with an ability somewhere in the spectrum between being able to walk on water, though the air, or with high speed. Therefore, a fixed version of this card already exists, albeit shifted to a different cultural background, and I see no need to create my own version.

Fleetfeather Sandals Original

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Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights Lands

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

Like with Beta, I will only look at those cards which have not been properly reprinted in the meantime.

A note about the scope of my redesigns: I will always keep the name and the color affiliations of the original card. Obviously, some old card names are problematic – especially the real world references in Arabian Nights – and would be out of bounds for a real redesign. However, I consider the name as one of the defining aspects of the cards I redesign. Also, many card concepts work best (or only) if colorshifted, and some already have been. I’d rather change the card’s concept to fit its color affiliation, though.

 

Bazaar of Baghdad

Bazaar of Baghdad Original

Nearly unplayable in fair decks, broken in unfair decks – just the kind of card I despise the most! In this case, however, fixing the power level (and adding a mana ability) should suffice.

My design:

Bazaar of Baghdad

 

Desert

Desert Original

Power level in constructed isn’t the issue here, but I take exception to the role this card plays in limited, crippling small attackers (and also effectively enhancing blockers) for way too little cost. Additionally, I am not happy with the timing restriction for reasons of elegance and grokkability, and I also do not really get what it means that you need to tap this land for its effect – either your opponent has to cross the desert to get to you or not. I thus went for the flavor of retreating to a stronghold surrounded by desert(s) protecting you without the need to get active.

My design:

Desert

 

Diamond Valley

Diamond Valley Original

Wizards have already printed a fixed version of that card. I’m not a fan of legendary lands (actually, not a fan of the legendary concept at all), I believe that activation cost could be a mana cheaper, and there is no need to make this a rare, but this design is close enough for me.

Miren, the Moaning Well Original

 

Elephant Graveyard

Elephant Graveyard Original

This ability would be majorly annoying in any limited environment featuring elephants, even with a reasonably high mana cost attached (it’s definitely undercosted with tapping the land as the only cost). I do not think repeated regeneration on a land is a great idea at all. Also, I’m not sure why a graveyard should allow you to regenerate your creatures in the first place! I decided to go with a different concept fitting the flavor better. I do not think my design is less powerful, but it requires a heavier commitment to an elephant tribal theme to pay off.

My design:

Elephant Graveyard

 

Island of Wak-Wak

Island of Wak-Wak Original

Apart from the unacceptable name (an island which isn’t an island!) and the unclear concept, this card is fine if it gets the usual treatment of adding a mana ability and increasing the cost for its activated ability. Oh, and maybe a quote, rephrased from the original story, which actually relates at least somehow to what the card does.

My design:

Island of Wak-Wak

 

Library of Alexandria

Library of Alexandria Original

Lastly, we have the most overpowered land from Magic’s early history – isn’t it funny how the Library even possesses a mana ability, when Diamond Valley and Oasis don’t? Making this ability more expensive can solve the power level issue, but the whole concept seems wrong to me, making the rich even richer – Sea Gate Wreckage makes so much more sense!

So, the basic idea here is that knowledge begets knowledge, which is of course true, but really problematic in game terms. An abundance of hand cards enabling you to draw additional cards is worse than the already dangerous ramp concept of spending a lot of mana to gain access to even more mana. While people habitually use card draw to draw into more card draw, there should not be a bonus for already having a full grip.

I could just have designed a generic card-drawing land (costing a boatload of mana to activate), but I wanted to use a concept related to the flavor of a library as a place where you search for knowledge instead.

My design:

Library of Alexandria

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