Hypno-Sand Babe: Stumbling Through You Make the Card 3

Hello everyone! If you’re like me, you were happy to see the next stage of You Make The Card 3 pop up on magicthegathering.com Wednesday. If you’re also like me, you’re feeling a bit disappointed this time around. Follow me as I analyze the proposed mechanics and search for the golden needle in this fetid haystack.

“Right step, Posey!!! Right step!!!” — Pedro, Salsa Master

Hello everyone! If you’re like me, you were happy to see the next stage of You Make The Card 3 pop up on magicthegathering.com Wednesday. If you’re also like me, you’re feeling a bit disappointed this time around.

I really love the You Make The Card promotion. I think it’s a great way to let us Magic fans feel connected to the process that creates the game we love so much. Many of us have fantasized about making Magic cards of our own, and since the chances that any one of us is going to get hired on to Wizards’ R&D or win a Magic Invitational are pretty darn slim, YMTC is as close as we’re going to get.

Speaking of the Invitational, I was really pleased they added another card winner by letting the public vote on their favorite from the other 15 participants’ submissions. This was further encouragement for Invitationalists to take this rare and glorious opportunity for Magic immortality more seriously than some had in the past (anyone remember the frankly insulting Penguin enchantment joke?). Let’s take a quick (but related to the topic at hand) detour into what player-designed cards will be making their way to our booster packs via R&D development:

Terry Soh “Jin, Master of Disruption”


Creature – Zombie Wizard


0: Reveal your hand. Target player chooses a card from it and you discard that card. If you do, that player reveals his or her hand. Choose a card from it. The player discards that card. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery and only once each turn.

No offense to Terry Soh, but I’m frankly a bit underwhelmed by this card. It’s basically a beatdown retread of Cabal Interrogator or Nezumi Shortfang. In my opinion, Terry didn’t reach high enough for this card on the power scale. If you’re going to have your image immortalized on a Magic card, reach for the brass ring! It was almost as if he was second-guessing what R&D development would do to the discard creature card he really wanted to submit by preemptively saddling it with four drawbacks. First, you must have a card in your own hand. Second, you have to let your opponent Coercion you first. Then, you can only play the ability as a sorcery, and lastly you can only do it once per turn.

Complaints aside, Jin, Master of Disruption is actually an okay little card. It’s a Black beatdown creature that can fight against creature combat tricks, something its enemy colors (Green and White) have in abundance. Activate its ability in your first main phase before moving into combat. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from ripping a combat trick off the top of their library and using it during their attack phase. There’s a lesson we can learn here though; Wizards wants to make their Invitational cards better than average, so aim high! As is, I could easily see a card like Jin sitting in an uncommon slot in a future booster draft as a solid Limited pick. I expect R&D is going to need to juice this one up.

Next we have the public’s choice:

Tsuyoshi Fujita’s “Unluckyman’s Paradise”


If Unluckyman’s Paradise is in your opening hand and you’re not playing first, you may begin the game with it in play. If you do, Unluckyman’s Paradise comes into play with a luck counter on it.

T: Add 1 to your mana pool.

T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Play this ability only if Unluckyman’s Paradise has a luck counter on it.

On the other end of the spectrum is Fujita’s card, which is firing on all cylinders! The high-water mark for a truly great Invitational card is when it brings something new and fresh to the game. The best example of this is Chris Pikula Meddling Mage. Another way to look at winning the Invitational is that you now have the opportunity to right a wrong, to address a hole in the game or a problem that bothers you. When Pikula submitted Meddling Mage, Combo Winter was fresh in all of our minds. Meddling Mage stabs narrow combo decks through the heart and forces them to include creature control if they don’t want to get shut down.

Fujita aims high with this card. It does something that’s never been done before in regular Magic by letting you start a game with a land in play. It also aims to “fix” a problem in the Magic; even with the play/draw rule, going first is still a significant advantage. Unluckyman’s Paradise can turn around an unlucky die roll and saddled with going second into a benefit.

It’s a powerful card, capable of giving you two lands in play on turn 2. But at the same time it’s fickle; if you don’t have it in your opening hand, it’s only going to give you the bare minimum you can expect from a land. This is a complex card that requires a lot of thinking and strategizing before including it in your deck. It also raises rules questions that development will have to address; for instance, what happens if you have two or more Unluckyman’s Paradises in your opening hand on the draw? Can you put them all into play? Is that too powerful? Fujita aimed high with his card, and was rewarded by an overwhelmingly high vote from the public.

One other cool thing about this card is its use as a luck gage. Do you think you’re horribly unlucky and “always” lose the die roll? See how often you’re putting a luck counter on your Unluckyman’s Paradise.

One last thing before I leave the Invitational behind: love, love, looooooove how Bob Maher’s card turned out, and I especially love its amazing interaction with Sensei’s Divining Top. Use the Top to put a land on top of your library and draw the card for free. Or if you end up with three cards with converted mana costs higher than you want to pay for in life, tap your Top to draw the one you want, and then lose one life to draw the Top with Bob’s card.

Moving on to the topic and hand… finally! You Make The Card 3.

I thought the new approach-starting with the artwork first-was kinda cool. And when I saw the art that eventually won the vote I was doubly excited. Hypno-Sand Babe is a fantastic piece of artwork. In fact, the artwork is so cool it’s led me to be a bit disappointed in how YMTC3 had turned out. You see, Hypno-Sand Babe is just too awesome a piece of artwork to be flashed on the stack and then buried in your graveyard. She deserves to be out there on the board, looking good, affecting the game turn after turn while each player comments about what great art it is (obviously, I voted for enchantment).

Instead, we get to see her for all of the ten seconds or so it takes to resolve the instant or sorcery. Highly disappointing.

I tried to look on the bright side. There was bound to be some really great ideas sent in for card mechanics for such a great-looking card. And the fact that Maro took forever to wade through them all gave me hope.

Hope that was dashed today by the rather lackluster assortment of choices we’re offered, especially since I know my submission was great! Here’s what I sent in:

Bennie’s Mechanic:

Tap target creature and put an Illusion token into play that is a copy of target creature. As long as the Illusion token remains in play, target creature does not untap during opponent’s untap phase.

I thought it was a good fit, playing nicely off the flavor of the art and being a card that could be both fun and competitive. Ah well. Maybe next year. Anyway, let’s go through the actual choices we were offered, shall we?

Mechanic A:

Put all local enchantment cards in all graveyards that could enchant target creature into play under your control enchanting that creature.

Strictly a casual card. While I don’t have anything against strictly casual cards (heck, I’ve built decks around Nomad Mythmaker and Epic Proportions), I think YMTC should aim for the broadest application possible. Forgotten Ancient came pretty close, as did Crucible of Worlds. I kinda like equipment taking over the job of local enchantments somewhat. Pushing a card like this might make Wizards make a set where “local enchantments matter.” Think about it!

Mechanic B:

You can’t lose the game this turn.

Naaaaaaaaaaarroooooooow. Way, way too narrow. This is an Uber-Timmy card for which we get saddled with stuff like One With Nothing. Admittedly, Mechanic B is slightly better than O.W.N., but being slightly better than awful isn’t something to feel good about, is it? You can’t use this to really save you from damage since the beginning of next turn you’ll still lose once the game checks and sees you’re at zero or less.

Mechanic C:

As an additional cost to play CARDNAME, sacrifice a creature. Put NUMBER creature tokens into play that are 1/1 copies of the sacrificed creature.

This is kinda interesting. A lot of will rest in how many 1/1 copies are made. Combines nicely with creatures that have comes into play abilities. Imagine sacrificing Solemn Simulacrum or Eternal Witness! If it makes several 1/1 copies then things might get confusing, especially if this is played multiple times with different targets. Overall though, this is one of the few that appeals to me.

Mechanic D:

Target player gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.

Okay, so giving a player “protection” is novel, but honestly how many White cards over the years have for all practical purposes given us this effect? Yes, it’s flexible, but I just can’t get excited over a modular Fog/Story Circle/Ivory Mask, even if it turns out being a one mana White instant.

Mechanic E:

Remove all permanents you control from the game. Take an extra turn after this one. At the end of that turn, return to play under their owner’s control all cards removed from the game this way.

I think it’s becoming clear how to get Mark Rosewater attention, by offering up cards that get his Magic: The Puzzling mind whirring with Johnny possibilities. So, you take another turn but you don’t get to play with your current permanents during that extra turn. I suppose you could float some mana, play this spell, and then cast a few other things that you will then utilize to win during your next free turn. Or maybe you’re just going to use this as just a “fixed” Time Walk to basically just draw an extra card and maybe play an extra land. You can spice things up by playing creatures with comes-into-play abilities. Oh, look-there crops up Eternal Witness again! Mildly interesting.

Mechanic F:

You win the game if there are no cards in your library.

Ooooo, looky! Mill yourself, win the game! Or maybe this is a sideboard card against Dampen Thought.dec (unless they nerf it by making it a sorcery). Again, another Uber-Johnny card. Somebody stop them!

Mechanic G:

Copy target activated or triggered ability. You may choose new targets for the copy. (Mana abilities can’t be targeted.)

It’s like a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker for abilities! Only, just one time. I suppose you can build your deck around this card, but would it be worth the effort? Once again, I hear Rosewaterian giggles echoing behind this pick.

Mechanic H:

Counter target spell. Search your library for a card with the same name as that spell, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

Mildly interesting, but let’s take a realistic look at this spell. It’s a hard counter so it’s gotta cost more than two mana. Since it’s going to sometimes effectively let you tutor for a card it’s bound to end up costing four mana (at least). Do we really need another four mana counterspell?

Mechanic I:

Each player chooses a target artifact, creature, enchantment, or land card in an opponent’s graveyard. Then each player puts that card into play under his or her control.

Everybody gets to plunder an opponent’s graveyard, hoping to find something useful they can put into play. This is a fun “everybody plays!” group game card that would likely take way more effort than its worth to make it worthwhile in more competitive formats.

Mechanic J:

Remove target creature from the game and draw cards equal to its power. At the beginning of your next upkeep, return it to play and discard cards equal to its toughness.

As a huge fan of Greater Good, I have to admit this mechanic intrigued me. Eternal Witness again jumps to mind, this time equipped with a Bonesplitter or two, and of course, getting back this card when the Witness comes back into play! Yep, I’m already envisioning Jehovah’s Witness Bulldog.dec (kudos to anyone who remembers the Bloom County reference)! It’s likely to be tough not making this card too good without banishing it forever into Johnnydom.

So this is it? Out of 10,000 submissions, this is the crème de la crème? Maybe this is a skill-tester version of YMTC, to see what we’ll pick to determine whether we’re worthy of getting another crack at card design. It appears to me that there are only three worth considering-C, J, and possibly E. I voted for J but would be satisfied with C and only mildly annoyed at E. But if you guys vote for any of the others, I’m warning you: we might flunk the skill test and this You Make The Card might be our last! So vote carefully!