I was reminded of Nalathni Dragon yesterday, and a wave of nostalgia hit me. What a cool card! I even used to possess a „playset“ of it – not that I could remember to actually ever have played with it, though. Even for the most casual decks, it was just too bad. Heck, it would even be too bad to be used in current limited formats! If it ever had been included in a set of roughly the era when it was printed, it might have seen limited play then, but that says more about how terrible limited was at that time than about how useful Nalathni Dragon is.
Isn’t that a pity? Such a cool card to look at, but with almost zero playing value! Pondering such thoughts, I hit upon the idea of dusting off my Magic Set Explorer and mocking up versions of old cards which pass the test for modern design sensibilities, while capturing as much of the original’s flavor as possible. This is the first installment of a series where I „fix“ old cards in such a way, beginning with those old promos which were not originally published as a part of any expansion or special product. My goal is to produce designs which play well in limited (giving them a rarity for that purpose) and are not broken in constructed environments, while staying close to the original feel.
(There might or might not be a second installment of this series.)
This card has the following issues:
1. Banding is not remotely close to a mechanic which could be printed today.
2. Also, banding clearly does not belong in Red, so I need to reproduce this card’s vibe in a completely different way.
3. It is too weak. Fortunately, that issue can usually be addressed by tweaking some numbers.
1. Lands should produce mana, at least indirectly.
2. The ability can lock an opponent out of playing creatures. While this isn’t an issue in high-level constructed play, it just isn’t fun to play against and too easy to set up in limited and casual.
Sewers of Estark
1. That card name really does not fit an instant.
2. The second part of its ability does not belong in Black.
3. It’s terrible.
1. Vigilance – and also any similar ability – does not belong in Red. The vibe of this centaur being alert needs to be portrayed differently.
2. This is clearly a design for a common (by modern standards), but a double-colored mana cost on a common 3-drop creature does not play well in limited.
3. The card is weak.
1. The original art is charmingly quaint, but does not fit the mechanic, while the new one is stone ugly.
2. The badger’s ability is only really relevant in limited environments, but does not play great there, since it encourages early boardstalls.
3. Again, there’s the problem of a common 3-drop creature featuring a double-colored mana cost.
4. And again, this is a weak card.
1. Obviously, this card is completely busted.
2. There’s a coin flip. I personally loathe coin flip cards, but they are still a part of Magic today. However, they are not supposed to be constructed viable anymore, and the basic idea of this card is high risk for high reward, so a version that isn’t strong enough for tournament play wouldn’t do anyway, which rules a coin flip out.
What do you think?