The Great Designer Search 2 Finalists: Jonathan Woodward

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Jonathan Woodward

Golamo

Enchantment made Golamo's creatures huge. Wielding that power, the Graforman ants might conquer the world.

MR: This logline is a big miss for me. First, a logline on a poster wants to be one line. Two lines really takes the wind out of its wings. I don't like referring to "enchantment" by name. Worst of all, it just not that evocative. B movies have proven that people like larger than normal creatures, but I feel like you just say it rather than find a way to evoke it. Giant ants can be very cool but I feel that people reading the poster don't go "Cool giant ants!" but rather "What are Graforman ants?"

CB01 - Vax Chitterpaw
[Vax Chitterpaw - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/Labs/Gds/gds2/fractal/SecondChallenge]
B
Creature - Rat Rogue
1/1
Frenzy 1 (Whenever CARDNAME attacks and is not blocked, it gets +1/+0 until end of turn.)

KEN: Frenzy is a flavorful word to put on animals. It does a great job of punishing your opponent for not having any creatures. Some color gets to have the baseline 1-drop Frenzy—black got it.

MG: Frenzy isn't a particularly exciting mechanic. It always seems to play wrong. Say you have this creature and your opponent has a 1/2. You want to be able to attack with this—it's got frenzy! It'll pump up! But you can't. It won't even trade with that creature; it'll just die. Frenzy is the combat boost that never works in combat. Maybe the evaluation changes in an Auras-matter set. Maybe there'll be enough other creatures floating around that your frenzy creatures get through, or (and this is the hope) maybe the abundant Auras can give the frenzy creatures the size and/or the evasion they need to not get blocked. That's intriguing, and worth exploring, but I don't give it a tremendously high chance of success.

ZH: Frenzy is another ability that R&D is divided on. I personally dislike it, because it doesn't actually do what it says it does. We're used to thinking of the power of our creatures affecting combat, and we look at their power when we're considering whether or not to attack. However, if we think about it that way, we're liable to get blown out by a blocker. What these cards really say, then, is "Whenever CARDNAME attacks and is not blocked, CARDNAME deals N damage to defending player." To me, that's an ability you put on a single creature, not something to base a mechanic around.

That said, there isn't anything inherently wrong with this creature, and I like it as a common Constructed seed. Plus, there are people on your side in the Frenzy fight, so it's not like the ability is awful.

MR: I'll play counterpoint to Zac's point. I'm a fan of frenzy. I like that it encourages blocking. It makes players have to interact with one another. The design issue with frenzy is that it can't just go on any creature. It's requires a more deft touch. That said, I like the execution here. Simple but with good game play.

CB02 - Kohmorr Whisperer
1B
Creature - Bat Advisor
1/1
Flying
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, target player loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

KEN: A fun creature, and my favorite card in this set.

MG: It's a tiny entry into the Blind Hunter / Highway Robber family. Plus, a cheap, common flyer is a great Aura target in an Auras-matter set. Works for me.

ZH: This card is sweet. I'm surprised we've never printed it before. Although I've got to ask: How on earth did you concept a Bat Advisor?

MR: This card is fine in a vacuum. I'm not quite sure what its role is in the big picture though.

CB03 - Entrails Eater
2B
Creature - Rat Shaman
2/2
Whenever you sacrifice a creature, you may gain 2 life.

KEN: Here's an uncommon-looking creature that enables a draft-around strategy and seeds casual Constructed decks. However, how fun is it to sacrifice your creatures? Fun enough for a dedicated common? We make Kiln Fiends all the time, I'm wondering if this is supposed to be in the forsaken set instead of this one. When you sacrifice an Aura to the consume cards in this set, this doesn't trigger.

It reads like an uncommon we might have tried and cut in Rise of the Eldrazi for some Spawn token love, then named as close as possible to Entrails Feaster.

MG: I love cards like this (I'm a Johnny who enjoys sacrificing my own creatures for fun and profit), but there's no way this should be common. Exactly three cards in history have had a "whenever you sacrifice (something)" trigger; one was rare and two were uncommon. This weird line of text is just egregious on a common, especially in a set in which you need two other cards to make it work (since there are no creatures that sacrifice themselves here), and sacrificing isn't even a particularly prominent theme (sure, there's consume, but those are one-shot spell effects and you're not going to pay the additional cost all the time).

ZH: A lot of cards like this existed in the file for Scars of Mirrodin initially. What we found out was that most people assumed that this template allowed you to sacrifice creatures; if it didn't, how in the world would you sacrifice a creature, exactly? Did that mean you gained life whenever a creature died?

In general, then, we concluded that these types of effects almost always wanted to either a) exist at higher rarities or b) just trigger off a creature dying, and allow the "sacrifice your creatures" plan to be added-value upside.

MR: I feel like this is a card missing from Scott Van Essen's set. He has a set filled with creatures that sacrifice themselves and not enough cards that care. You have a card that cares but very little way to actually sacrifice creatures. This is a recurring note on your submission. You have a lot of cards that could be very cool in the right environment but then you don't have that environment. Cards like this hint at directions you could go, but I feel you have to pick one.

Also, to echo Mark's comment, this card is not common, especially in a set that doesn't seem to have a sacrifice theme.

CB04 - Lurking Earwig
1BB
Creature – Insect
4/1

KEN: I have a vanilla chart on our internal wiki. This is on it to print one day.

MG: Aggressive. It seems fine in theory (it'll just trade with a 1/1!), but this is the kind of card that, floating around in numbers, could end Limited games before they begin. Pair it with some removal (how convenient that it's black), and it doesn't take that many hits to kill your opponent. Is this card where the power should be allocated?

ZH: Awesome vanilla numbers. Love it.

MR: I checked Gatherer and I'm pretty sure you found a vanilla we haven't done in black. Bravo.

CB05 - Scorpion Hatchling
[Scorpion Guy - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/labs:Gds/gds2/fractal/brainstorming/Black]
3B
Creature – Scorpion
2/3
Deathtouch

KEN: If a 2 ManaBlack Mana 1/3 Deathtouch is a Giant Scorpion, then what's a 3 ManaBlack Mana 2/3 Deathtouch? I'll wager not a "Scorpion Hatchling," more like Moonglove Winnower. I do get the Giant Scorpion reference and the flavor that Golamo has GINORMOUS versions of normally small things.

MG: This is a functional reprint of Moonglove Winnower. In the last round, some of the other contestants were pinged for using their "community-designed" slots on vanilla cards like 1 ManaRed Mana 2/1. This is less egregious than that, but it's still not a great use of the community, and you've done it twice.

ZH: Strong functional reprint, and it makes sense as a Scorpion and/or Insect. In fact, so far, you may have reduced complexity by too much with this set—but it's way easier to deal with that problem than the alternative.

MR: I'm not sure why this is a Scorpion when you have an insect race to push, but other than that, a fine French vanilla.

CB06 - Insatiable Kohmorr 
[Insatiable Kohmorr - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/Labs:Gds/gds2/metaghost/GolamoBlammo]
2BB
Creature - Bat Rogue
2/2
Flying
Whenever Insatiable Kohmorr attacks, it gets +1/+1 and target creature you control gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

KEN: Stealing Strength Bat! Oh wait, downside. Boo, downside! I'd make the all-upside attack trigger Steal Strength Bat and stick it where it fits best. Killing your own creatures with the -1/-1 ability won't trigger your Entrails Eater.

In related news, I think I'll stick a Stealing Strength Bat into a set I'm working on. That would be a cool card.

MG: This can target itself, which is a counterintuitive interaction you probably want to shut down. I like the concept of this card; it gets to attack as a 3/3 if it leeches power from one of your other creatures. Very black. It's not a common, though.

ZH: Meh. I feel it's a bug and not a feature that you're allowed to just target this creature with its own ability a huge chunk of the time. I like the concept, but in practice you're almost never going to want to kill a creature of your own to get in an additional damage, and if you're not killing one of your own creatures then the -1/-1 is only tangentially relevant. If, on the other hand, the ability just doesn't trigger unless you control another creature—if, in other words, it can't nibble at itself—then it's unreasonably complex for very little upside. I think this creature just needs to be something else.

MR: Yet another card where I like the flavor and the card in isolation, but I'm not sure what larger role it's playing. This isn't a common card though.

CB07 - Vax Ruffian
4B
Creature - Rat Warrior
3/3
Frenzy 2
(Whenever CARDNAME attacks and is not blocked, it gets +2/+0 until end of turn)

KEN: We've got something like Hollow Dogs but a frenzied Rat. My inclination was to see a Murk Dweller here and Giant Scorpion before it. However, this is Golamo, and more gigantic common creatures are in order.

MG: The stats seem fine for a frenzy creature, though Hollow Dogs would like to have a word with it.

ZH: If you are in fact doing Frenzy, these are good numbers for it.

MR: One of the things to remember is that we like to limit how much damage common creatures deal. Having a black creature that hits for 5 is a little much for common black.

CB08 - War Centipede 
[War Centipede - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/labs:Gds/gds2/fractal/brainstorming/Black]
4BB
Creature – Insect
4/3
Swampwalk

KEN: Here's the big black common creature. Though, I doubt Anurid Murkdiver is big enough to convey the set's oversized bugs theme. I think you need to be more heavy-handed than this.

Take a look at a Brian Tinsman set. Scourge has Twisted Abomination at common. Rise of the Eldrazi has Ulamog's Crusher at common.

Now look at Golamo.

Yeah.

MG: This "community-designed" card is a functional reprint of Anurid Murkdiver. There's nothing inherently wrong with functional reprints; as you put French vanilla creatures into your set, you're likely to hit some overlaps. This particular card works as a gigantic insect. So I'm not criticizing the card itself, the person who suggested it as a good fit, or you for agreeing. But I am questioning whether you're using the community to its peak efficiency.

ZH: The concept of a War Centipede is in fact pretty terrifying. The numbers are probably correct, as well. Good job. Also, good job of getting the creature/noncreature numbers right given your implementation of the enchantments-that-are-also-creatures mechanic. I felt like a lot of people's tendency would be to skew towards too many creatures, and it reflects well upon you that you were able to resist that temptation.

MR: A 4-powered creature with evasion is a little more aggressive than we normally print at common. I would probably shrink this creature's power to 3. Maybe make it a 3/4 instead of a 4/3.

CB09 - Taste of Madness 
B
Sorcery
Target player discards a card.
Consume. (As you cast this spell, you may sacrifice a creature or Aura. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.)

KEN: Consume has changed. It's now Aura-matters. We want Auras to matter in black, I guess. I finally found a way to sacrifice a creature so Entrails Eater matters. I sure don't want to sacrifice my War Centipedes, though.

MG: This is a really steep price to pay for copying this spell. It's an unappealing cost to most players, which makes it an unappealing mechanic. I'll pay extra mana. I'll discard an extraneous land card. But sacrificing my own creatures and Auras? I need those to win the game!

Consume is the second-level mechanic in an Aura-matters set. The first level is Auras themselves. The second level is things that care about Auras. Compare things like metalcraft or affinity in artifact-matters sets. They rewarded you for having artifacts without forcing you to stop having those artifacts. Consume rewards you for having Auras by eating those Auras, meaning you no longer have Auras. That's not the right way to implement a rewards program.

ZH: I don't really know what to think about consume. I played with it a fair amount and never once actually consumed anything. That doesn't mean I couldn't be persuaded to do so, but I wanted some token generation or something that allowed me to throw away pseudo-irrelevant creatures. As it is, it's rare to want to trade threats for the potential to hit basic lands.

MR: Traditionally we don't allow black to sacrifice enchantments because we like making black enchantments that have what we in R&D call a "deal with the devil." These are cards that do good for you but have the potential long term to do bad stuff. The idea is: are you willing to use cards that can turn on you? We really like how this captures the essence of black. As such, we don't allow sacrificing enchantments because we don't want black to have an easy way out of the "deal with a devil" enchantments. Luckily, you found a way around that problem by restricting the sacrifice to Auras. Most "deal with a devil" enchantments are global enchantments so consume doesn't cause a problem.

The other possible pitfall is that this is a copy effect, but the one exception we've made is that spells that basically copy themselves (such as replicate) are allowable at common as doing more of the same has proven easy enough to track. The one thing I do worry about is do players want to sacrifice their own things to copy the spell? If all the spells are like this, the answer is probably going to be no.

Here's the rub. The spell above is actually pretty good, yet it's going to be unattractive to all but the good Spikes. Why? Because the spell on its own isn't particularly good and the cost of sacrificing your own permanent doesn't read as sexy. So what you end up with is a mechanic that is good but doesn't look good. While we don't mind making individual cards that players think are bad and learn are good, we tend to shy away from mechanics that do this.

CB10 - Carrion Snack
B
Instant
Exile up to three target cards from a single graveyard. Target creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn for each card exiled this way.

KEN: Kind of a clunky combat trick that probably won't make it into many Limited decks. But a crappy common is needed for pack variance.

MG: This is cute. I like this variant of a staple black effect; I can taste the rotting meat.

ZH: Interesting card, but I don't really understand what it's doing here. It functions awkwardly with your Raise Dead, and there's already another +N+0 type card in the set as well. There's nothing wrong with this spell, I suppose—I just don't see why the set needs it.

MR: I feel like this submission is all over the place. This card cares about cards in the graveyard. But why? What does this have to do with the larger set? Once again, I don't dislike this card unto itself. In a set that cared about the graveyard, it might be a pretty cool card.

CB11 - Clinging Darkness 
[Ravnica – Clinging Darkness]
1B
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets -4/-1.

KEN: Welcome back from Ravnica. There must be something cooler somewhere.

MG: It makes sense that you'd reprint an Aura here. I don't know what makes this one a good choice. The decision to have weak removal in an Aura set is sound, and this is weak removal. But with so many Auras floating around, the cost of printing negative Auras rises. I'm imagining stacks of Auras piled on top of one another (especially with incarnate in the set), so if one or more of those Auras actually belongs to your opponent, processing the board state gets much more complex. It's also easy to lose track of Auras you control when they're sitting on the other side of the table. That's not to say that the set shouldn't have any negative Auras at all, but it's a topic that needs to be seriously considered, and any negative Auras better be worth the increased baggage they carry in this environment. Arrest is relatively easy to process, because you can essentially ignore the creature it's enchanting; Clinging Darkness is relatively difficult to process, because the creature is still active and now you're doing subtraction as well as addition.

ZH: Cool reprint!

MR: My best guess on why you chose this for your repeat is that you have an Aura subtheme and you wanted to bring back a good Aura. My worry though is that it doesn't play well with your other Aura matters cards in this submission. For example, this card is often used as a kill card so it isn't even around for you to sacrifice it to a consume card, not that you'd want to as it's busy hurting the opponent's creature.

CB12 - Desiccate 
1B
Sorcery
Destroy target creature that isn't enchanted.

KEN: We've got the transmute-less version of Brainspoil. I prefer making Doom Blades instants so combat can be more dynamic and interesting.

MG: Now you're just showing off—correctly spelling the most misspelled word in the English language. Come on!

Seriously, I think this effect is absolutely the right removal to have here, though I'd make it a 2 ManaBlack Mana instant.

ZH: I absolutely love the inclusion of this card in the set. It reminds me of Drooling Ogre, which has always been on of my favorite Cube cards. Its drawback is significant inside the context of its own block, but inside Magic at-large you're actually getting a pretty good deal. Cool.

MR: One of the ways to make something matter is the trick you're using here: punish those that aren't using it. The existence of this card in the set will raise the value of Auras and make players more willing to use them. Good job.

CB13 - Skittering in the Dark
[Fearsome Aura - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/labs:Gds/gds2/fractal/brainstorming/Black]
1B
Sorcery
Target creature gets +1/+0 and has Intimidate until end of turn.
Draw a card.

KEN: This seems very out of place. Not an Aura? Cantrips for value? Afraid to make a crappy common?

MG: I have no idea why this isn't an Aura.

ZH: Okay, I know I've talked about my dislike of cantrips generally, but this particular example is more egregious than normal because you're probably using this spell to kill the opponent. Why, then, does that extra card matter unless you're cycling it in the early-to-mid-game, in which case the card isn't really doing what it says it wants to do.

MR: One of the themes of this submission is that everyone is submitting cantrips and my note is always, does this have to be a cantrip? I like cantrips when they serve the set but I'm less fond of them when they just randomly appear. Testing has shown that they are not as simple as one would assume and so I like to use them sparingly but effectively.

CB14 - Spineless Visage
[Thug Aura - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/labs:Gds/gds2/fractal/brainstorming/Black]
1B
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and can't block.
Incarnate 1B (1B, exile this card from your hand: Put a 0/0 colorless Weird creature token onto the battlefield, then put this card onto the battlefield attached to that token. Incarnate only as a sorcery.)

KEN: Maniacal Rage, you are reincarnated! These incarnate cards feel like they should be in the creature slots. This set feels over in black common creature slots. This is a tension card, but the set is doing ok there.

All in all, I would've been happier to see an Unholy Strength here. Since I didn't see it, I definitely expect to see Incarnate Holy Strength at CW01.

MG: This tells me that you are either not paying attention to your feedback, or you don't agree with it (and are wrong). Incarnate is a complex ability. At common, you want to start out with the simplest implementations of it. This should be a 1 ManaBlack Mana +2/+1 Aura with incarnate, full stop (classic Unholy Strength), or maybe a 2 ManaBlack Mana +3/+1 Aura with incarnate, full stop. Doing the Spineless Thug version may seem simple to you, but it's not: You've combined both a benefit (+2/+2) and a drawback (can't block) on the same Aura, and its usage possibilities increases. Rather than being a 2-mode split card (it's an Aura or a creature), now it's a 3-mode split card: It's a creature, it's an Aura you put on your own creature to make it bigger, or it's an Aura you put on your opponent's creature to prevent it from blocking. This is not a common.

ZH: I really enjoy this mechanic, and I think this card is fantastic implementation of it. I can see when I'd want to cast both sides, and skirts the complexity of incarnate by stripping the enchantment itself down to (almost) the bare minimum. I also like that you lose a little bit of the weirdness of having a bunch of different tokens on the battlefield by having the physical enchantment sitting there on the table so you can look at it and see what it does.

MR: I like incarnate, so I'm happy to see it show up again. This seems like a fine black card but it's only common if you're choosing to spend your complexity points on incarnate.

CB15 - Essence of Hunger
2B
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has "Sacrifice a creature: this creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn."
Incarnate 2B (2B, exile this card from your hand: Put a 0/0 colorless Weird creature token onto the battlefield, then put this card onto the battlefield attached to that token. Incarnate only as a sorcery.)

KEN: I'd give +2/+2 since there are so many 2's on the card already. Suck it, Nantuko Husk! It would be a bread and butter black common, which might be correct as it does have a set keyword on it.

MG: And this is not common either, because it splices an activated ability onto the creature, in addition to the P/T boost and the incarnate keyword. Decisions, decisions. At common, why not grant a static ability keyword, like intimidate or swampwalk?

As for incarnate itself, I like it. I'm biased, though; I came up with the same ability myself a couple of years ago and have pitched it for a couple of different sets (though I used the version that made 2/2 tokens rather than 0/0 tokens). I was tickled at how popular it was among the GDS candidates. Clearly a sign of genius.

ZH: Like the last card, I enjoy that both sides of this spell accomplish different goals: I can either Fallen Angel my opponent immediately for a lot of damage, or I can build up a Nantuko Husk without having to risk card disadvantage. Really solid execution.

MR: CB14 [Spineless Visage] is a somewhat simple incarnate card (although Mark is right that +2/+1 is even more simple). Essence of Hunger is not. For starters, it makes the opponent have to be aware of every creature on the table because each one can be turned into 2 extra damage. If you want to do this card, I'd put it at uncommon.

CB16 - Necromantic Infusion
[Ebony Erupt - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/Labs/Gds/gds2/fractal/SecondChallenge]
2B
Sorcery
Return up to one target creature card and up to one target aura card from your graveyard to your hand.

KEN: Due to incarnate, this played very close to a Death's Duet. I like the Aura clause here for fun, though I'm getting the vibe that black and Aura-matters aren't best friends. Sometimes you have to go with a Nim Lasher theme even though black and artifacts don't really mix, either.

Why not template as "Choose one or both"?

MG: A definite color-pie bleed, but I agree with your analysis that we can push this boundary here.

ZH: I enjoy Grim Discovery-type cards, so I think this spell's a good fit for this world. It's also a strong way for black to compete in Limited without giving it a zillion removal spells, and it also gets a player over the "hump" of playing Auras in a deck by ensuring they can recoup their card disadvantage. Great card. I am sure someone is going to complain about breaking the color pie by caring about Auras, but in my mind it's not too different from deciding to care about lands.

MR: I like this card. It's a simple tweak that fits in theme for your set. Technically, black doesn't regrow Auras but in a set all about Auras this is probably an acceptable bleed.

CB17 - Chewed by Rats
[Chewed by Rats - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/labs:Gds/gds2/fractal/brainstorming/Black]
2B
Instant
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
Consume (As you cast this spell, you may sacrifice a creature or Aura. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.)

KEN: Your creatures stayed alive when you conspired a spell. Conspire had such a lukewarm welcome, I'm beginning to think consume might not be an appealing enough mechanic to print on anything. If you have to add two mana to Disfigure just to put consume on it ... what are the chances you'll find enough cool designs to justify the mechanic at all?

MG: Now this is a consume spell you might actually sacrifice something for. There are a lot of moving parts here, though. Disfigure is an instant; it can change the combat math. But this may involve one of your creatures, or a power-boosting Aura, vanishing during combat, as well as a second copy of the spell that may or may not affect the same creature as the first one ... this doesn't just change the combat math, it throws it into chaos. Figuring out the proper play before casting this card requires some kind of advanced degree. This could be common, but it's a complexity push; I'd rather see it at uncommon or as a sorcery.

ZH: This implementation of consume is more appealing to me than the last, since it allows me to trade threat-for-threat. Nevertheless, the mechanic just feels really weird to me. Maybe I'm not used to sacrificing enchantments?

MR: This consume card at least makes you more willing to sacrifice something. Losing one of your permanents to destroy an additional creature has a better chance of feeling worth it. Mark is right that this probably wants to be an uncommon based on the board complexity it creates.

CB18 - Fangs in the Night
[Mighty Drain - community.wizards.com/magicthegathering/wiki/labs:Gds/gds2/fractal/brainstorming/Black]
3BB
Sorcery
Target player loses life equal to the greatest power among creatures you control, and you gain that much life.

KEN: Another card in the Soul's Fire camp. This is "Soul's Syphon Soul." Here it's just a random drain variant, but I liked it better as a thematic part of the dinosaur set.

MG: Making some cards that care about power is canny, since it feels fine in a vacuum and also supports the Aura theme. A life swing this unbounded feels uncommon, though. Compare Soul Feast. Also compare Absorb Vis, which cost seven mana.

ZH: So I guess this is what we're doing with Frenzy? That's cool, I guess, but what I really would rather have in that case is just a Scoria Elemental. I suppose the bonus with Auras is nice, too. By and large, though, this card feels pretty random to me, and also is swingy enough that it might ought to be uncommon regardless. Still, not bad, on the whole.

MR: This is another of the cards that feel like it's come from someone else's set, in this case Ethan Fleischer with its "power matters" theme. You claim you have a "power matters" theme yourself but I'm not really seeing it barring this card. (Frenzy to me is not "power matters" although could be relevant in a "power matters" set.)

Commentary:

In response to feedback, I changed my keyword mechanics substantially, removing Swarm and Erupt, and restricting Favored to uncommon and higher. In place of Favored, the common Thamarach have other enchantment-related abilities, while the Graformans have tribal benefits instead of Swarm. Erupt didn't fit the creature and aura focus of Golamo; now instants and sorceries have a tweaked version of Hunger, called Consume. To avoid punishing people for casting an aura rather than Incarnating it, Consume can feed on both creatures and auras. Although sacrificing enchantments is outside the color pie for black, sacrificing an aura seems less problematic, since black was already able to sacrifice the creature the aura was attached to. Necromantic Infusion also stretches the color pie. However, auras in this set are often effectively creatures, and colors often reach a bit to fit a set's themes; consider Grim Discovery.

Golamo also now has a minor "power matters" theme, to encourage players to make their insects and rats even bigger than they already are, and reward players for enchanting their creatures. The Frenzy keyword from Future Sight fits into this, and appears on the violent red and black barbarian Vax. The Vax also feed upon sacrificed creatures, interacting with both Consume and creatures that sacrifice themselves (such as worker ants). The blue/black Kohmorr prefer to steal things: life, cards, auras.

Removal in Golamo is a bit less effective than usual against auras, and I pushed the power of Desiccate to help auras in constructed.

KEN: In summary, it was a nice surprise to see frenzy, fun to put Steal Strength Bat into my own set, and the incarnate cards taking up extra creature slots. The okay stuff included a loud Draft build-around and the Aura-matters stuff that does get the set theme onto workable commons. The bottom stuff included consume and the "Brian Tinsman-lite" vibe I got from the so-called "giant" insect creatures.

This set feels a little too confined. If you want to stay in the competition, you're going to need to break out and embrace your world. If your world is about "things getting big" let's see "things getting BIG."

MG: I feel like I'm seeing more in this set than is actually here. I like the idea of an Aura-matters set. I think that's an environment we can build and that would be fun to play. And I'm seeing the seeds of that environment here, but just not enough of it. There are only two Auras at black common that you want to put on your own creatures, and they're both too complex. There are a couple of spells that support the Aura theme well (in particular the Disentomb variant and the Dark Banishing variant). But there are other cards that don't support this theme well (consume "supports" your Auras by asking you to sacrifice them), and—conspicuously—none of the creatures presented here care about Auras at all. That was jarring to me; shouldn't the creatures that you'll be enchanting try to encourage you to do so? Your own commentary said that there are supposed to be enchantment-related abilities here.

"Auras-matter" is a mechanical theme, which is fine. There's also supposedly a flavor theme here of giganticized creatures that are normally small. I'm not feeling that. Nothing felt out of the ordinary with these creatures. A 1/1 Bat? That's normal. A super-sized Insect? Giant Cockroach was in Urza's Legacy. The implementation of the flavor theme is not feeling new or different; I'm not seeing a rationale or payoff. The execution of the Aura theme is lacking—you need to be building an environment that encourages, supports, and rewards Auras; shorting removal spells isn't enough. Add in a shaky grasp of what a common feels like, and in my opinion, this is one of the weaker sets, though one I'd like to see back for another week.

ZH: Your set definitely has the biggest delta between where it was initially and where it is now. Indeed, as I mentioned, it's almost too simple—but not by much, and don't take that concept too far. I think killing favored was an excellent, excellent idea. Consume, however, doesn't really get me too excited, but maybe there's more room to explore there. Still, you can be proud: Your set was my least favorite last week, but now I'm really seeing some genuine possibility. Good job!

MR: Jonathan, my biggest concern with your set is that while I see there are different races that matter, I still don't have a sense of who they are. Players don't get to read your write-up where you explain it, meaning that the cards themselves have to convey the meaning. I do like you breaking up your tribes by color as that makes it easier to get a sense of who's doing what as it's partially color separated.

The one theme that's coming through the loudest, and perhaps this is due to the two colors you've done, is the Aura theme. It's the place where I feel you're best exploring interesting design space and making cards that work well together. I like "power matters" in that it goes well with Auras (especially ones with incarnate that require them to all boost power and toughness), but with the exception of the one card, I'm not seeing the theme in this submission.

The thing I keep wanting to see is you finding a way to make the giant mutated animals a selling point of the set. I keep reading the cards as Insect humanoid race and Rat humanoid race rather than giant insects and giant rats. I feel like the set has a fun theme that isn't coming out in the mechanical execution.

I believe you are working with some interesting mechanical elements. Where I feel you need work is that you are not selling the flavor of your world as strongly as you could. I like the idea of a "world gone wild where everything has grown to crazy proportions" but I want to stop hearing about it and start seeing it.

Finally, while you have some interesting mechanical elements (I'm a big fan of incarnate, for example) I feel you are too spread out and not focused enough. Too many cards in this submission feel like they belong in another set instead of this one. You need to get a coherent mechanical vision and convey it.



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