Card Creation: 4-Color Generals, part 4

The Dynamic Duo Cycle

This is another “off-color activation” cycle for achieving a 4-color identity.  This time the idea was the other two colors represent the second member of the duo.

Brannock and Gyr

Brannock and Gyr

A Knight and his Griffin. Brannock is an aggressive attacker, and Gyr allows him to divebomb.  UG aren’t normally Griffin (or Gryffinfdor) colors, but the abilities granted are right for the colors. UUGG buys you both flying and trample.

Fury and Vengeance


Fury and Vengeance

Samurai Twins. Protection from Blue is a cop-out, and I feel like I give out Double Strike and Trample too often, though Double Strike is fitting here. Paying to get Bushido is kind of cool.

Mosk and Merc

Mosk and Merc 

Mosk and Merc had their names stolen from the pages of the Wheel of Time series of books.  Mosk guys will steal your best Sword,stab you in the face with it, and then Merc will chuck it back at, not to, you.


Saralen and Cersei

Saralen and CerseiSister of the Sea  

Saralen’s name didn’t get borrowed from fantasy literature, Cersei’s did (though not intentionally).  I like Twin generals like Stangg, so I knew one of these had to be that style.  If Saralen Summons her Sister of the Sea, their siren song seduces attacks, and then soothes savagery aimed at you.

Trag and Allowin

Trag and Allowin

Allowin’s name also comes from Sci-Fi literature. This one has Flavor Text.   I know that regeneration already causes the creature to tap (at least it used to),  but this allows Allowin to tap opposing creatures… they just get a random bonus of being a troll.

Card Creation: 4-Color Generals, part 3

The Transform Card series

While I still think differently-colored activation costs  are the secret tech that would make a 4-colored color-identity legend work the best, Innistrad block introduced some new tech — double-faced cards — that provide another option.  Again, you only need 2-colors to cast it, but they’re better with 4.

Some of these cards are my favorites, and a few need a bit more work.

Torkin Wingclaw

Torkin Wingclaw Torkin Wingclaw.1

Torkin was partially inspired by Huntmaster of the Fells, and partially by Pikel Bouldershoulder (from R.A. Salvatore’s Cleric Quintet).   He’s a lord for the birds and the bears (that he makes), but he can switch back and forth depending on what you need defensively.




Daikatimor is a Rage Demon.  He’s a pretty brutal beater, and a potential 2-turn clock.  However, his transform condition (which I think might need to cost more), curses him into becoming an innocent young girl (just waiting for blood to be spilled to reawaken the Demon within), who also makes your team into great blockers (if pacifists).

Dialda, of the Doesn’t-have-a-cool-title


Dialda is a Knight who has studied tactical strategy, but she has some anger issues.  I wonder if the Double Strike side  with the slith effect might be too attractive/powerful. I also think I’d use a less optional transform cost.

Gwynne, Handmaiden of Trest

Gwynne Handmaiden of TrestGwynne Handmaiden of Trest.1

Sure, Edric does the spying bit, but silly little court-maiden Gwynne does the dirty work.  First she disarms you with her charm (and convinces you to give her gifts), but if you get in her way, or if you just need  killing, she will eliminate you and then disappear in to the mists, leaving people none-the-wiser.

Aeonic Traveller

Aeonic TravellerAeonic Traveller.1

I have a rule against Time-Travel… it’s confusing, and rarely done well.   The baddass Mad Scientist speeds up time for you by giving you more cards… glimpses into the future… but if you pay the cost you get accidental rampaging dinosaur that eats time (preventing you from drawing cards, and requiring a sacrifice of hand), but also buys you time (more attack phases).

Card Creation: 4-Color Generals, part 2

The Commander Cast Contest Cycle

This was my second submission to the Commander Cast Contest. This one also didn’t win.

This cycle starts at 2 mana for a 2/2 and ends at a 6/6 for 6.  Each has an ability that has a major-effect on the game, where that effect is particularly stronger against the non-color, and can be built around in its own deck.  I used Hybrid mana in the 2 and 3 cost creaures in order to technically have the colors in the mana costs. This makes them a bit easier to cast in the early game. Color identity prevents them from slotting into 2 or 3 color decks, and the hosing of a  particular color strategy makes them less optimal in 5 color decks.

Spirit of the Earth

Spirit of Earth

This guy’s name was originally “Gravity Bear.”  He is not blue and prevents bounce strategies.  Pro-Fliers doesn’t do much on defense, but he’s also only a 2-drop.


Urbania, the Leveler

Urbania The Leveler

Urbania would like nothing more than to see gleaming spires, crowded streets, and even dingy alleyways cover her plane (can’t someone buy her a planeswalker ticket to Ravnica?). Her grand plan, and it is Her plan, involves clearcutting the wilderness and building and building. She sells it well, but few others notice how powerful she grows as her cityscape spreads.
_design notes:_ This shuts down certain forms of ramp, which is one of the most annoying things about big green. It hits Primeval Titan [who was not banned at the time of the contest], fetch-lands, Oracle of Mul Daya, not Azusa though.  At one point she also made you discard any non-drawn lands too, but I thought that was too much at this cost, and I wanted her to beable to come out early in the game to slow ramp.  She hits your own ramp too OR if you ramp first (via fetches or artifact ramp) she’s bigger.   Her red-ness also plays well with Land Destruction.
The templating on this card is really poor.
Astaia, Souls’ Barrier

Astaia Souls Barrier

Astaia believes that the soul’s purpose is to serve on this plane, and that the only allowable death is a natural one (or at least an honorable one on the battlefield).
_desgin notes_:  There are sacrifice effects in all colors, but black has the most, and the most ability to cause others to sacrifice. This is a pretty powerful effect in EDH.  This card was created before Sigarda and before the other Angel that prevents sacrifices as costs.  I think the symmetrical effect is more interesting.
Anx, Spellweb Spinner

Anx Spellweb Spinner  

Anx’s webs capture the magical energies and vibrations, as well as the pain suffered by those around her, which she feasts upon.
_design notes:_ Her main ability shuts down red direct-damage strategies.  Reach is standard spider fare, but I didn’t want to break the cycle pattern and make her a 5/7.  I thought about adding a triggered ability that caused her toughness to grow when she was targeted, but I decided Shroud was a simpler and less wordy choice. Shroud, not hexproof, because she’d rather eat the spells you’d send at her than allow them to affect her.
Thursus, Grasp of Depths

Thursus Grasp of Depths

Thursus exists in the unfathomable void that lies beyond life, death, or the imagination.  It’s empty there, and Thursus intends to keep it that way. It’s avatar emerges from the depths of the sea (or the mind).
_design notes_: White has a lot of exile effects, and this card at least gives you the hope of getting the cards back.  The second ability gives a degree of control against Wrath effects or other board-wipes. Note that it can give any player’s creature undying, so it can be used politically.  The Return to Hand cost is meant to represent Thursus retreating into the player’s mind. It gives undying rather than indestructible because the latter feels more white. If X is 0, it’s a convenient way to bounce Thursus to your hand in response to targeting, and be able to recast it without extra General fees. I almost changed it to ‘avatar’ creature type, but I really wanted to make a UBRG Zombie deck.

Card Creation: 4-Color Legends, part 1.

I’ve always been disappointed that there are no 4-color legends to build decks around.  The nephilim are cool, they aren’t all super-inspiring as generals, so soon after I started playing EDH, I started creating 4-color generals. These are all cards that I think would be cool in the format. I haven’t built decks around them yet (my 4-color decks are tag-teams featuring real cards), but I plan on it this summer.

Since I won’t have as many opportunities to play over the summer, I thought I’d share some of my commander creations.

The Originals (my first creations, entered into Commander Cast’s contest, thought they were created well before it)

“I figured that one of the ways that 4-color legal generals could actually get printed in a regular set would be taking advantage of Color Identity rules. In non-commander magic, these would be playable and draftable in 2-color decks. They’d be decent creatures that were made better if a player could manage to scrape together the off-color activation costs for their additional abilities.
In commander, by the color identity rules, they’d only be playable in 4 or 5 color decks.  They’d still be relatively easy to cast, but would really shine with they additional abilities, AND they’d enable the 4 color deckbuilding that we currently lack.
I designed these over a year ago after talking with a buddy of mine (and these were the impetus for me suggesting 4-color decks for the CallInferno).  I’ve tweaked them a bit over the last few months.  The process was mostly to identify some interesting abilities that were effective against the non-color of each general.  I went with Allied Color casting costs with off-color activations only because I liked the balance. (I am working on the opposing color/ allied color-activation counterparts).  Since I like flavor and character in my cards, I also used a bit of top-down design on some of the cards, thinking of the character archetype first and then adding abilities.”

Kvasha Midnights Watch


Once a nightwatch patrol on the walls of her city, dutifully protecting it from threats from the surrounding wilds. Kvasha’s failing one night allowed a woodland necromancer to temporarily take the city. Kvasha was killed by undead beasts in the attack (which was ultimately resisted by the city’s militia). When she rose again the following night, her guilt compelled her to return to the walls (and skies) and defend the city. She slakes her vampiric thirst only on the enemies of the city, but she also draws strength from the dreams and fears of the inhabitants of her city.


_Design notes_:  I almost gave her Defender, but what fun is a commander that can’t go on offense just a little.  I gave her a vampiric pumping ability as a RW combat trick (which is also relatively powerful because of the deathtouch). The before block declaration keeps her from being a constant 2-for-1 on defense).  The discard-regenerate represents her blue side.

Woodwing Arbor Phoenix


Woodwing was nothing but a normal tropical bird until Vedalken artificers burned and clear-cut her forest to gain access to the magical ores beneath it. Woodwing rose from the ashes ready to exact vengeance and justice. Though her flame has been snuffed out many times, her power over life and death is strong enough to re-ignite not only her own soul, but also those of the other inhabitants of her forest.


 _design notes:_   GWB are graveyard recursion colors, with R having creature recursion in the form of phoneix cards.  Hexproof comes from her G cost, and is helpful against blue’s targeted bounce.  Her Graveyard recursion power is also resistant to countermagic. I like the idea that this is a commanderyou want to go to your Graveyard.  I limited her graveyard recursion to G/R for flavor reasons more than anything else.

Zgplyx the Ooze Infernal

If the roilng, burning, engulfing, acidic chaos that is Zgplyx has an origin or motivation beyond the utter destruction of order, none have survived encounters with it with enough sanity (or life) to discover them.

_design notes:_  Oozes are the best. So are +1/+1 counters. It’s a lot more fun with gross amounts of mana.


Varik Spellwild Knight

Varik was a typical knight in the service of his king, when he discovered a latent talent for spellcasting.
_design notes_:  This was the first one I designed. He’s a standard Knight with a mini- electrolyze on a stick.



Altus Realmfinder

Lost Civilizations, hidden temples, camoflauged enemy encampments… Altus Realmfinder will locate them. Many attribute his success to the piercing vision of his Owl-Aven eyes and his uncanny ability to evade harm, however, while this is true,  what none-still-living know is that he also engages in blood magic to guide him (at great and secret cost to those who hire him).
_Design Notes_:  This card is effective versus Red for two reasons. 1. protection from non-combat damage means he can’t be bolted out of the sky by direct damage. 2. Land recursion softens the blow of Red’s targeted and mass land destruction.  I didn’t want this to be a broken recursion engine, thus the additional sacrifice cost (which gives it it’s black feel). The Untap activation was added as a character trait. In order to find the lost realms, Altus has has to fly into the red-zone first. Or find some other way to tap.