Submitted without comment:
This Week's Best Thing Ever!
This is actually an old one (in keeping with the theme), but it's a good one.
3-Way EDH Planescape Archenemy Game
Josh - 4
Kris. - 20
Terry - 13
Josh's Turn: Plays Walking Archive. Puts 2 additional +1/+1 counters on it, forcing everyone to draw three extra cards during their Draw Step.
Terry's Turn: Draws four for Walking Archive. Schemes for A Display of My Dark Power, doubling everyone's mana until Terry's next turn. Planeswalks us to Feeding Grounds, reducing the cost of Red and Green spells.
Kris.' Turn: Draws four. Schemes into Your Puny Minds Cannot Fathom to draw four more. Plays a land. Taps out for 28 mana of varying levels of each color. I play Enchanted Evening (everything is an Enchantment), Patrician's Scorn for free to destroy all Enchantments (everything), then follow up with Lord of Extinction, Meglonoth, and Gleancrawler. Has 8 mana left over. Rolls for planeswalk four times, getting Chaos twice putting 6 +1/+1 counters on both Meglonoth and Gleancrawler. At EoT: 51/51 Lord of Extinction, 12/12 Meglonoth(tramples), 12/12 Gleancrawler(tramples), and a justified sense of smugness.
Josh's Turn: Schemes Your Will is Not Your Own, gaining control of Kris.' Lord of Extinction, giving it trample and haste. Plays a forest. Attacks with Lord of Extinction, which is blocked with Meglonoth. The Meglonoth's ability triggers to kill Josh and the Lord of Extinction tramples to kill Kris.
Terry's Turn: Wins.
When they had the last GDS2, I put my hat in the ring. I didn't get very far, but I did get to the essay part, which was pretty fun. The first part is here, and I'll put the second part up next week.
These are my answers to the essay question portion of the GDS2. Questions in bold. Commentary in italics.
2. You are instructed to move an ability from one color to another. This ability must be something used in every set (i.e. discard, direct damage, card drawing etc.). You may not choose an ability that has already been color shifted by R&D. What ability do you shift and to what color do you shift it? Explain why you would make that shift.
I'd move life gain from White to Blue. White and Blue have a common theme of buying time, but they handle it in different ways: White can simply outlast or ignore its enemies while Blue trips them up and sets them back.
Blue could add new dimensions to life gain by using its flair for manipulating time and magic. A major limitation could be capping whatever life gain Blue grants to the player's starting life total. Life gain in Blue would be limited to reversing damage, not stockpiling it. You could even use 'borrowed life' like that gained from Delusions of Mediocrity to make Blue life gain more fragile than that of Black and Green. You could also have it bounce life loss, gaining life equal to the life it lost this turn.
None of this would interfere with White's prevention, redirection, and protection. White could still keep damage from ever touching it and its permanents, and have more resources to do so without so having much focus on accumulating life. White's ability to spiral up to high life totals does feed alternate win conditions like milling and poison counters. While those do suffer slightly, Black and Green still have robust life gain and Blue's resilience makes it a dogged threat that alternate win conditions can still definitively answer.
Blue is a nimble color that's been sitting between two colors renown for life gain. That it's gone so long without some way of gaining life aside from artifacts is actually strange.
Honestly, I'm moving life gain to Blue because I've been told to do so-and believe me, I will do one hell of a job of it-but I'm choosing life gain and blue because life gain is one of the few abilities that has been in every set and Blue is a color it has barely been in. The list of applicable abilities and colors they'd never been seen in before was...small enough to be educational (Not even targeted Discard abilities really seemed to apply, as there weren't any during Antiquities.).
This really does seem like a B.S. question. Seriously. Antiquities has two discard costs and one looting ability. That's hardly a color-sensitive mechanic that's been in every set.
3. What block do you feel did the best job of integrating design with creative? What is one more thing that could have been done to make it even better?
Zendikar was supposed to be an exciting and dangerous place where the setting itself was important, and it succeeded. The specialty lands were evocative. The natives were dangerous, and the play was fast-paced and certainly, you had to be pretty good to survive (well, better than me anyway. I’ve always liked Zendikar block more than it liked me.). Rise of the Eldrazi was massive. I never got the bunkered and besieged feeling the set was going for until the actual Eldrazi hit the table though. It still surprises me that Zendikar wasn’t just well-built around a solid setting in advance because it is just really good on both a flavor and play level.
That said, despite the awesome Timmy draw of playing them, the mythic Eldrazi were not quite what I might have thought of. They were big and destructive and I wanted to use them as a player, but from a creative perspective, they were just big creatures. The Eldrazi theme was largely using versatile ramping cards to get up to swinging with the big guys (If not the Legendary Eldrazi, then the others.). The Eldrazi consisted of a path of cards vaulting off of one another to make the big guys. It was great and worked with the slower format of Rise of Eldrazi, but a better twist would have been to construct the Eldrazi piecemeal.
Rise of the Eldrazi was a set with a strong element of building up permanents on the board. The Eldrazi could have been better served as a set of good permanents that any player would want in their deck for their abilities alone, but which also work to support other Eldrazi cards or to support other cards to make them more Eldrazi-like. Their versatility and ways of working with other cards would make them useful outside of an Eldrazi-themed deck, but they would interlock with one another to make the right deck seem like the slow consumption of a plane by ethereal beings.
Because seriously guys, Zendikar was awesome. Oh, and if you want specific, one-item answers about a block that doesn't focus on one set, quit making blocks that are actually two blocks with tenuous links.