“When we were working on Judgment, we knew we wanted to give white some good cards.”
– Randy Buehler, R&D Lead Developer
I recently went to see Episode II: Attack of the Clones. When I bought my ticket I had clashing thoughts rolling through my head: There was the hope that I’d thoroughly enjoy the movie experience that George Lucas and boys cooked up, but there was also the dread that I would be very disappointed. Unfortunately, I experience those thoughts frequently throughout the summer”blockbuster” season, where story all too often suffers in the face of bloated SFX budgets. It’s also particularly painful when you see a movie that has so much promise, with moments of greatness floating in sour mediocrity. I inevitably leave the theater afterwards, thinking,”That was an okay movie – but man, it could have been great if only they had invested more time and effort…”
I get similarly mixed feelings about Judgment.
As much as I love the set overall, I couldn’t help but feel disappointment for a wasted opportunity. Judgment was supposed to be the green and white set… And while green has consistently gotten goodies throughout the Odyssey block, white has been seriously neglected. I couldn’t help but hope that Judgment would make up for that neglect in spades, giving us white cards on par with the black Renaissance in Torment.
Man, what a letdown.
Sure, there’s some gems floating in there; Glory is up there with Genesis as one of the best incarnations, and Benevolent Bodyguard is proving to be decent in Block Constructed. Spirit Cairn and Solitary Confinement have some powerful potential when paired up with other colors. But overall it’s a wash, particularly in light of R&D’s evident intention to give white good cards in this set. What went wrong?
It’s human nature to be quick to criticize without offering constructive solutions or ideas; I certainly have been guilty of that myself. As a member of the Virginia Screenwriters Forum, where we critique each other’s movie scripts, I’ve made a conscious effort to offer suggestions and ideas to hopefully help the writer come up with ways to improve his script. In that spirit, I’m offering up some white card ideas that would have fit in the set and given white a good boost in power. I have no idea if anyone in R&D will ever read this – but I can hope, can’t I?
Each player sacrifices X lands, where X is equal to the number of white creatures you control.
Remove target creature from the game if that creature’s toughness is equal to or less than the number of white creatures you control.
The idea with both of these is to reward a white weenie strategy – and it’s a takeoff of Torment’s swamp-driven power cards like Mutilate and Mind Sludge. They’re designed to be very powerful in a narrow, focused deck.
Search your library for a basic plains and put it in your hand. Shuffle your library.
Threshold — Instead, search your library for up to two basic plains and put them in your hand. Shuffle your library.
A Tithe effect would be helpful in running a land-light weenie deck, and wouldn’t be broken.
Enchanted creature gains”3, tap: search your library for a copy of enchanted creature and put it into play. Shuffle your library afterwards.”
The rebel search mechanic was powerful; a creature enchantment that comes close to that seemed powerful yet balanced by the inherent weakness that creature enchantments have.
Creature – Nomad 1/1
All damage dealt to Serene Nomad is prevented.
Creature – Cleric 1/1
When Death Seeker goes to the graveyard from play, you may remove it from the game. If you do, return target creature card from your graveyard to play if its toughness is not greater than the number of plains you control.
Voice of Vengeance
Creature – Warrior 1/1
When Voice of Vengeance comes into play, name a color. Voice of Vengeance gains protection from that color permanently.
Creature – Bird Warrior Cleric 1/1
Sacrifice Aven Seer: Counter target spell. Return that spell to owner’s hand.
I think all of these weenies would have been good for the game; all of them are really good, and likely considered”undercosted” but I don’t see any of them as broken by any means. Serene Nomad and Voice of Vengeance can be considered seriously undercosted in comparison to similar cards that have seen print, but really how threatening is a 1/1 creature? And we want to make good white weenies, right?
Creature – Nomad 2/1
First Strike. Discard a card from your hand: target creature gains protection from a color of your choice until the end of turn.
Aven Warrior Prime
Creature – Bird Warrior 2/1
Flying. Aven Warrior Prime does not tap to attack.
W: Aven Warrior Prime gains first strike until the end of turn.
Creature – Nomad Cleric 2/2
Sacrifice Spirit Seeker: Put a 1/1 flying white spirit token into play.
Creature – Nomad Warrior 1/1
White creatures gain +1/+1.
At the two casting cost slots, I wanted to promote aggressive weenies. Again, these guys are probably considered undercosted – but that’s how you make good playable creatures. Randy Buehler mentioned that it’s okay to push undercosted small creatures since they can be handled in so many ways, and I have to agree. If R&D wants white weenie to make a comeback, they are going to need to create undercosted white weenies, not simply make all other colors’ weenies worse.
So there you go, Wizards – some ideas on what could have been done, to bring back white in the weenie spirit you intended. Perhaps we’ll see some cards on par with these in Onslaught!