Schlagwort-Archiv: redesign

Fixing Old Cards: Beta Artifacts

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

It seems I finally discovered a topic in the intersection of my own interests and that of my potential readers, so I’ll keep the ball rolling for a while. I will proceed chronologically now, addressing all cards from the original Magic set (referring to Beta instead of Alpha, though, because I consider the latter to be essentially an early misprint) which have not been reprinted in a regular set yet first. This time, I will look at the rest of the artifacts.

 

Chaos Orb

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I actually do not really want to „fix“ this card, since there is no possible design I really like which would be even remotely similar in function. Let’s break it down:

1. It is extremely efficient colorless removal, which shouldn’t exist. Of course I can easily make it less efficient, but the very point of this card is its efficiency tempered by making the player jump through an especially weird hoop.

2. It is somehow „chaotic“ in nature, meaning that you cannot really be sure what will happen when you use it, although you have a certain degree of influence. While such chaos can be reproduced in several ways, I am just not a fan of that kind of effect. In my opinion, randomized libraries supply all the randomness which this game needs.

3. Most importantly, it breaks expectations what Magic gameplay is about. Specifically, it introduces manual dexterity. That kind of design space is nowadays reserved for Un-sets. The basic question is if there is a point in trying to fix a card when such a fix necessarily removes its fundamental nature.

My answer to that question would be no if this wasn’t mainly a creative exercise. I decided to provide a redesign just to meet the challenge, but if I were ever put in the position to decide if a slot in any card set will be filled with a Chaos Orb redesign or a new, conceptually completely different card, I would always choose the latter. In my book, Chaos Orb is not just bad design, it is in bad design space. Still, I will do what I am here for, keeping the „colorless removal“ and „chaotic“ aspects, but removing the efficiency and the Un-sets flair.

My design:

Chaos Orb

 

Copper Tablet

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It is kinda strange that Wizards have never revisited this simple, elegant design. They have almost obsoleted it with Scalding Tongs, and of course, Red got stuff like Sulfuric Vortex and Curse of the Pierced Heart, but the basic idea of an artifact which pings each player has never been reprinted. I believe that is a shame, since all it takes is a slight upgrade to generate an interesting card.

My design:

Copper Tablet

 

Cyclopean Tomb

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This is an extremely unwieldy and complicated card which doesn’t really do anything with any degree of efficiency – and if it were efficient at what it does, that would even be bad! Cyclopean Tomb’s initial design was about enabling swampwalk (which isn’t in use anymore), colorscrewing opponents (not something Magic design strives for nowadays), and giving yourself more swamps as manafixing or a way to grow your Nightmare or whatever (no, really). Today, it can additionally neutralize utility lands (which didn’t even exist back then).

Once again, this is a card which would be better off lost in the mists of time than redesigned, but I did my best. It didn’t help that name and artwork do not seem to have any connection whatsoever to the card’s mechanic, though… I also strongly suspect that the artist illustrated the wrong meaning of „cyclopean“, which was probably intended to denote „gigantic“. Thinking about all this mess, I decided to go with the flavor of a slow corrupting influence somehow tied to swamps which could be undone by removing the Tomb.

My design:

Cyclopean Tomb

 

Forcefield

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Forcefield is one of those rares sitting in the awkward space of being not good enough for constructed, but potentially oppressive in limited. Actually, it is not even that good in limited either, because there are many situations where it does little or nothing, but it’s quite unfun to play against when it works. My goal thus was to make it less dominating in those situations, but more useful generally.

My design:

Forcefield

 

Gauntlet of Might

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I actually like that card as is. I do not mean there isn’t room for improvement – there certainly is – but the point of this series isn’t attempting to find the perfect versions of designs, but to fix those I consider inadequate. Gauntlet of Might, with its current Oracle wording, would be a nice rare in a contemporary set, so I’ll leave it be.

 

Illusionary Mask

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Here we go again: I like nothing about this card. No, I do not even like morph, and even less this incredibly complicated alternative way to put creatures onto the battlefield face down. The potential to abuse it with stuff like Phyrexian Dreadnought is just the icing on the cake.

However, fixing cards is also not about eliminating every concept I do not like. Face down creatures have become a staple in Magic and proven to work well enough, so it would be wrong to completely redesign this card to avoid using them. Instead, I concentrated on eliminating complexity and abuse potential.

My design:

Illusionary Mask

 

Time Vault

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The original Magic: The Gathering set explored uncharted waters, so the high number of designs I consider fundamentally flawed should not surprise anyone. This is yet another. Any possibility to repeatedly take extra turns, even at the cost of skipping turns first, seems just ripe for abuse, and its game play value is highly dubious. And yes, this card was obviously intended not to become untapped in any other way than via skipping a turn, no matter what the current Oracle wording says – it reads clearly „to untap it, you must skip a turn“, and it definitely means it, since even in Magic’s earliest days noone could miss the brokenness of combining this with any untap effect. (There might not have been a way to untap artifacts directly yet, but Animate Artifact and Instill Energy did exist!)

I decided to create a version of this card which does leave open a few contrived ways of „cheating“ to get extra turns, but not too easy ones, and not unbounded. Even more than with Illusionary Mask, it should prove my willingness to design cards which are „not for me“, at least in the context of this exercise.

My design:

Time Vault

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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

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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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Fixing Old Cards: Promos

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.)

 

Nalathni Dragon

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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.

My design:

Nalathni Dragon

 

Arena

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Issues:

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.

My design:

Arena

 

Sewers of Estark

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Issues:

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.

My design:

Sewers of Estark

 

Windseeker Centaur

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Issues:

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.

My design:

Windseeker Centaur

 

Giant Badger

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Issues:

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.

My design:

Giant Badger

 

Mana Crypt

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Issues:

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.

My design:

Mana Crypt

 

What do you think?

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