Cardsmith Blog

CCC: Simic Slaw

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

Ever since the dawn of Magic a battle has been waged between the two greatest factions of the game, flavor and function. The elegant joining of themes and mechanics against the overwhelming chaos of power! Okay, it's not actually all that epic but with Ravnica in the rearview I wanted to talk about The Simic and how they really emphasize this struggle from almost every angle.

(Disclaimer: If you don't know what the guild is, look them up now, explaining that could be its own article)

Everytime Magic has visited Ravnica the Simic get a mechanic that involves +1/+1 counters (Graft, Evolve, and Adapt). Flavorfully this makes sense, the experimentation of Blue and the growth of Green combine to make their creatures strong. However mechanically +1/+1 counters are a very Green thing. To put in perspective how much Blue sucks at +1/+1 counters here's how many cards each color has that in any way mention +1/+1 counters.

  • W - 126
  • U - 59
  • B - 145
  • R -82
  • G- 300

Blue literally has the least representation of this mechanic anywhere on the color pie. When you think about it from this angle The simic are Blue and Green in flavor and colors alone, mechanically they are very much dominated by green. This sort of domination also creeps into their cards quite a bit. A lot of multicolored Simic cards just tack on "draw a card" and consider that enough.

For some examples of Green domination in Simic design, let's look at the cards that exemplify it best, the Blue cards. See a lot of Blue Simic cards are basically Green with something thrown in to make it seem more blue (Usually flying or card draw). A prime example is Benthic Biomancer. The design of the Biomancer feels like a multicolor design. It gets it's card draw from Blue and the counter synergy from Green, this makes it odd to see as a monocolored card. Two other cards have a similar problem, Clinging Anemones and Frilled Oculus. Both of these cards are Blue but have no reason to be Blue instead of Green, in fact all that keeps Frilled Oculus from being a below rate, vanilla creature is a Green activated ability.

So what does this all mean and how can we apply it to our own card designs in the future? The main lesson here is that flavor and function is a careful balance that must be watched and maintained. When creating your own worlds, characters, and multicolored cards try and answer these questions.

-Why did you choose the color or colors you did to represent this card.
-Why isn't this card Monocolored?
-What does this get from each of its colors and how are they shown mechanically?

Hopefully in the process of answering these questions you'll find not only the perfect mechanical fit, but also a flavorful reasoning for them.

That's all for now, if you have any questions I'm happy to answer them on twitter, through email, or in the comments below. As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Aug 11, 2019 by East2West

Artful August

Welcome to...

This month MTGCardsmith is hosting it's second annual Artwork Contest!

Just as we did last year, we're looking for your Original Custom Artwork Cards for the month of August! Show us what you've created for the challenge, and watch for it to be featured!

Featured Cardsmiths

Something you may or not be aware of is that ZAHADOOM is leading the way in MTGCardsmith Instagram posts! A relative newcomer to the world of MTGCardsmith, ZAHADOOM has only been making cards on this site for just over a year, and has amassed over 600 cards to date! Stop by and take a look at this Featured Cardsmith and all their wonderful creations!

Our second Featured Cardsmith for August is another newcomer... oh wait! It's not really a newcomer, it's the Cardsmith Formerly Known As Mysterious_Gangsta! Fyresis (M_G) has been a contributing member of the Forums for quite a while now, and we're always excited to see what he comes up with! We've posted a handful of cards here for you to check out, and if you like these, there are over 500 more to check out!

Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Aug 01, 2019 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon

CCC: The Legend Continues

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

As of July 14th Coast to Coast Casual turns a whole year old. It's been an amazing year and I'm excited to keep writing for more to come. Since it's a special month I figured I'd like to do a sequel to my personal favorite article I've written so far. Back in December CCC: True Legends was posted running down some MTG characters who are often overlooked for those more popular. And now, in honor of our first year, please enjoy five more characters I think deserve a little bit more than they're getting, specifically highlighting their viability as future Commanders.

Before we get to the main list I want to give an honorary mention to Fblthp. This funky homunculos has been a fan favorite ever since we first saw him in Gatecrash. The fact that he just got a card printed is mainly why he doesn't make the main list but I wanted to mention him because not many know that he actually has a bit of story to him. Fblthp actually works for the Azorius Senate as a sort of custodian. An Azorius arrester named Parisha once used Fblthp as bait to capture a deviant Rakdos criminal named Vadax Gor. Vadax actually stole Fblthp for a short time (thus causing him to become Totally Lost) but Parisha saved him pretty quickly. For his efforts Fblthp was given the prize of the possibility for his descendants to petition to get him a plaque.

Now, without further ado, let me introduce you to...

5: Agnate and Thaddeus

Agnate and Thaddeus are twin brothers hailing from Dominarai. They were created as part of Urza's Bloodline Project (the same one that birthed Gerard, Sisay, Crovax, etc) to be generals to the Metathran (who were created as the perfect race of warriors to fight the phyrexians). The brothers share a mental connection so strong that they could not function without each other. Their story is long and sad with no happy ending for either brother. Thaddeus was vivisected by Tsabo Tavoc after being captured during an early siege of Koilos. Agnate would find Thaddeus during the taking of Koilos but Thaddeus had learned just how similar the Metathran were to the Phyrexians and wished to fight for Urza no longer. His final wish was death, which Agnate gave him. Agnate too would find a horrific end. In his grief Agnate trusted Dralnu, a lich who bore a striking resemblance to his dead brother. Dralnu secretly poisoned Agnate, hoping to turn him into a powerful zombie for his horde. Agnate discovered this however and asked his fellow commander Grizzlegom to kill him and take control over his portion of Urza's forces. Grizzlegom did so before taking the troops he now controlled into Dralnu's home of Vhelnish and slaying his entire horde. Agnate and Thaddeus represent a darker age side of Magic's story, one that we don't see much of now. Given their brotherly bond and positions as commanders, I'd love to see the two featured as partner Commanders in a future Commander product.

4: Nibb and Gyik

Speaking of partner Commanders lemme tell you about two idiot goblins who don't know nothing about tool safety. Nibb and Gyik has literally two references in all of Magic and both are just three or four lines of flavor text. On Lorwyn these two gobbos were originally black aligned delinquents who had been given axes and sent into the forest to do what goblins do. They are implied to have died there in a not so epic battle with a Treefolk (or possibly just a tree.) After The Great Aurora they became red aligned arsonists with a penchant for burning scarecrows, in this world they are implied to have burned themselves to death by accident. I love these two screw ups and it'd be cool to get a new black/red Goblin commander. I'd love to see these two partnered up in a sort of Goblin aristocrats deck (similar to The Shattergang Brothers)


Guff is a total goof and a member of The Nine Titans. This wild haired wizard lived in a secret library hidden somewhere on Dominaria. This library contained every book that ever was or ever will be written within the entirety of the multiverse. This gave him a massive amount of knowledge to the point where he went mad, luckily it was the fun kind of mad. During his time with The Nine Titans Guff would continuously break the fourth wall and crack jokes at the most inappropriate times. During the fight against Phyrexia Bo Levar, a fellow titan, discovered that Guff knew Phyrexia would win the war and attempted to convince Guff to change that. Going against his own code Guff erased part of his archives and rewrote the worst bits. Guff was killed by Yawgmoth's death cloud form. All in all this crazy guy deserves a better shake in the lore than just a few good jokes and snippets of flavor text. I'd love to see him head a sort of fate manipulation/chaos deck. Only Guff truly knows if that will ever happen though.

2: Krark

Krark would be number one if not for the simple fact that he's too well known. You've definitely heard of Krark-Clan Ironworks, Krark's Thumb, or even Krark's Other Thumb. Krark was a goblin adventurer from the plane of Mirrodin. He traveled the whole of the plane and cataloged his adventures and thoughts in a journal, this book would eventually become known as The Book of Krark. This book rallied a cult around it, The Cult of Krark, whose belief that Mirrodin is hollow was eventually proved true. Little is known about the goblin himself but given the flavor of Krark's Thumb I think a coin flip matters deck would be path for Krark. Let's get this lad back in the spotlight!

1: The Unluckiest

The Unluckiest is the name used for a character whose canon name is unknown. If you're a commander player you might've guessed who this person is. Featured on a cycle of Curses from Commander 2017 is a sharply dressed and very unfortunate man. According to the artist prompt and Rosewater himself this man is in fact a planeswalker known as The Unluckiest. This guy has a knack for planeswalking into situations that leave his life on the line yet always making it out alive. He has also been confirmed (sorta) by Rosewater to have been one of the planeswalkers present on Ravnica during War of the Spark. I'd live to see The Unluckiest finally get a canon name and a card, maybe something that makes opponents target you in exchange for high value? I dunno but I think there's some real potential here.

Now that I've got you thinking about legendaries, let's talk Commander for a minute. Lately I've been thinking about an endless war that's waged in the minds of all Magic players, Flavor v.s Function. When playing Commander I believe you should feel as if you are your commander, that's why I tend to build decks around commanders I can relate too. This has been on my mind because I've spent some time looking at the deck lists for past Commander products and I noticed a total lack of cohesion or story. Sure, along with each product WotC will release some small snippets telling us about the legends in the deck, but that's hardly enough. I want to know more about what Zedruu's doing right now. I want to read a small story about Damia and her unknown plane. WHAT EVEN IS THE MIMEOPLASM? The printing of Kaalia into the new Core Set is a step in the right direction but y'know what would be even better? A reason why the precons are fighting in the first place.

Bear with me.

Imagine, for a moment, that instead of four or five random generals fighting for who knows why we got an actual story along with the precons. This could even allow WotC to flesh out plots they had previously left hanging. Imagine one years precons are new versions of the Praetors from New Phyrexia fighting for dominance! Maybe a set of new political players bribing and bashing their way to the top of Paliano. We could even see the return of the Khans or maybe the Dragonlords dueling for supremacy over Tarkir. This is the direction the decks should take, not just to give players new cards and experiences but to enrich the lore. Seriously Wizards, hit me up, I've got a lot more in the chamber.

That's it for this week folks, since it's our anniversary I'd love to answer any questions you might have for me in the comments below. If you want to talk more about obscure lore, cool card ideas, or really anything find me on twitter @East2Westmtg or email me at [email protected] As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Jul 16, 2019 by East2West

How Can I Play Test This?

How Can I Play Test This?

We've all done it at one point or another. We go through the long process of making a card. We come up with an idea, we find the perfect piece of art, we put it all together with all the best intentions and then we finally, after about an hour of deliberations with ourselves, finally... hit Publish.

It usually isn't until this point that we start to think: Is this too complex? Did I cost this too high or too low? What kind of problems will this card create? Does it work as I imagined? Well the best way we know to find these answers is PLAY TESTING!

"But Corwinnn & Tomigon, how can we accomplish this play testing of which you speak?"

We're glad you asked... We sat down and put together a little tutorial for you, to help you make proxies and play test your custom cards in real life, so let's get started!

What you'll need:

Color Printer. White Paper. Cutting Mat. Ruler and a Razor Knife (Or Scissors). Spray Glue (optional). Extra Commons and Rules Cards. Card Sleeves.

Make a list or set containing all the cards you want to print.
Open up the full view of each of your selected cards.
Save the image or copy and paste into a document or image editing program.
Resize each card image to 3.48"x2.49" or 63mm x 88mm.
If you use A4 paper or 8 & 1/2" by 11" paper, you can print 9 cards. Some people like thick card stock paper, but I think for our example just regular paper is good enough.

Cutter knife, cutting mat, and ruler are what you need if you want ultimate precision, If you're just looking to put your card in a sleeve, then a little patience and a pair of scissors will do the trick.

Just a small amount of glue is enough to keep your printed card attached to it's new backer. If you prefer not to use any glue, that's fine as well.

Make sure that you're not using cards you ever want to use again before taking this step! I suggest not gluing any cards at first, until they've been play tested enough that you feel they have become dialed in.

Now your cards are ready to be shuffled into your deck! The cards will feel slightly thicker than normal cards, but you won't realize the difference when you play! If you didn't glue your cards together, just slide them into a sleeve together, and it will create the same effect

Playing with your own custom cards is super fun! We recommend you mix your custom cards into real decks so you can get a feel for the way your customs interact with real MTG cards.

Tomigon feels that limited is the first format we should keep in mind when designing cards, while I have always designed with vintage in mind so the best way to play is probably going to be different for everyone. Playing solo, playing one on one or even playing with a group of friends will, in our estimation, be so much more fun with the addition of custom card play testing. Tomigon's favorite way to use custom cards? Cube draft with his friends!

"You can test your custom cards with many cards, and sometimes you'll find unexpected synergies!" -Tomigon

Also check out Custom Tokens

One of our favorite Cardsmiths over the years has got to be Damnation. He carefully designs his cards around amazing, out of the box artwork and is always looking for, and giving out, advice on card design. Take a few minutes to check out this incredible Cardsmith!

Orzhova is another incredibly talented Cardsmith that we've long admired. Orzhova puts a great deal of effort into, not just the design, but the flavor text s well, so check out the cards designed by our second Featured Cardsmith of July!

Each month we're excited to highlight a few Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Jul 01, 2019 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon

CCC: Oathbreaker

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

I'm in my local game store, it's 2009 and I'm just starting to understand the game of Magic. It's FNM and I'm running a deck that I thought was an amazing Black midrange build. I didn't have any understanding of what a format was and so I had wandered my way into the Modern format that night. Playing that deck, whose win condition was a single copy of Hellcarver Demon, against actual modern decks was like swinging a rolled up newspaper at a dragon. I got lucky though, the people I was playing against were nice to me and through one dumb luck win and one guy having to leave in the middle of our game I ended up winning a two packs. I was handed a pack of Worldwake and one of Rise of the Eldrazi. I opened them and quickly removed the rare, putting them facedown on the table (This was just how I opened packs back then.) With a quick flip followed by an immediate freak out I'd found my first Planeswalker. That's right, the most powerful card in the format, Sarkhan the Mad! Sarkhan would quickly become a staple of my trade binder, where he has remained for the past 10 years. When I first opened him I thought he was great before quickly being corrected in practice. And so he was banished from my decks always on the back of my mind for being the first walker I ever opened. Fast forward. It's 2019 and I'm on twitter, someone has just retweeted a tweet from a charity called Magikids. They're talking about a new format, something called Oathbreaker. I go down the rabbit hole and find a new format, one that seems original, fun, and incredibly interesting. I can hear Sarkhan cheering from my trade binder.

Oathbreaker is a format similar to EDH with a few key differences. Life totals start at 20, decks are singleton but only 60 cards, your commander must be a planeswalker (and not just the ones that can already be commanders), and most interestingly, a signature spell. This spell, specifically an instant or sorcery, exists in your command zone with your commander and can only be cast while your commander is on the battlefield. The spell gains commander tax and returns to the command zone once cast. This creates a new level to game play since the spell is public information. The command tax on the spell is also super smart, making what would otherwise be snap picks like Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile into bad signature spells. Here's a link to the website for the format since I'm not here to just go over the rules and intricacies. While you're over there consider looking into and donating to Weirdcards, the charity that created this format.

When going through my binder to find playables for Oathbreaker I realized something. See there's an infinite etb trigger combo I've had for maybe a year that I haven't really found a home for, that is until I saw my Xenagos. Now this janky combo is the win condition in a deck that I'm proud to say is perfectly playable. So please allow me to present to you alongside Sarkhan his best bud Xenagos.

Sarkhan Decklist

Let's start with Sarkhan, the direction I went here is a sort of Dragon Tribal and Aristocrat Hybrid. Since Sarkhan won't be on the battlefield long due to his minus abilities and other players wanting to deal with him we have to get that value quick. To this end there's two strategies to try out here. We have some fast mana in the form of Dark Ritual, Pyretic Ritual, Seething Song, and a few others, we play these to possibly power out some dragons in the early game. This will let Sarkhan minus 4 himself upon entering and deal a whole bunch of damage. We also run small creatures with self recursion or death triggers, allowing Sarkhan's minus 2 to give us fuel for an eventual -4. Other than Sarkhan himself we have the signature spell of Crux of Fate. This works almost exclusively in our favor, killing our death trigger and recurring creatures while leaving our dragons alive to swing in without any obstructions. The biggest problem I've found with the deck is that it's not rare to end up with too many high cost cards in hand, don't worry though, this is where politics can save you. Oathbreaker being multiplayer means you can strike a deal if this happens. Still though, Sarkhan the Mad is a fine deck and a good use of the man himself.

Xenagos Decklist

Next up is Xenagos and my janky combo. The way the combo works is as follows; with a Panharmonicon and any enters the battlefield payoff on board (such as Altar of the Brood or Impact Tremors) cast Burning-Tree Emissary to add 2R and 2G, then off of that mana play Horned Kavu and return both Burning-Tree Emissary and the Kavu itself. You have enough mana floating to cast the Emissary all over again and repeat the loop. The rest of our slots are dedicated to fetching and protecting this combo. Our signature spell is Autumn's Veil to protect us the turn we go off. We run Prowling Serpopard and Gaea's Herald to keep our creatures safe on the stack. We also have Heartwood Storyteller, Beast Whisperer, and Primordial Sage to help us draw into our pieces. Xenagos helps us stall as well, generating ramp and small blockers to get us to the long game. One thing you'll notice here is a high price tag, this is because I had a few cards laying around that worked well in the deck but happened to be high value. If you want to see a budget build let me know.

Oathbreaker is a fun format that I can see really taking off in the future. It's something that can be either casual or competitive based on the people you play with making it a really unique experience. In my opinion it's a format to be treated like EDH, the point isn't to break the format just to have fun with it. When you're out there playing and brewing keep this in mind. Thank you so much for reading, if you want to read more Oathbreaker articles let me know. As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Jun 18, 2019 by East2West
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