Custom Card Game Design

Random Card – Sorin, Hedonist of Blood

Hello all

It’s been awhile since the blog was updated – life unfortunately happens, and as much as I would like to design custom cards all the time (and I’m sure Antares feels this way as well), unfortunately my job has been keeping me fairly busy as of late.  Work on my current project, Generals of Dareth, has stalled but is far from finished (in fact, I’m hoping to have a playtest build of the set, along with an early design skeleton of the second set, by the end of October).  A lot of my design lately has been one-offs of important story pieces that will come up as my overall plan for my custom sets progresses.

Today I want to take a look at one of those story pieces.  My custom sets are moving, from a story perspective, to Zendikar (much as it seems the actual MtG story is).  My return to Zendikar will be in the past, and will detail my own ‘alternate universe’ story of how the Eldrazi came to be imprisoned there.  As such, the story will feature planeswalkers Ugin, Sorin, and the unnamed Lithomancer, who in my alternate universe is the planeswalker Avienne Rumare.

Sorin is a character who has developed quite a bit in MtG since his introduction.  His first version focused on his vampiric abilities – life draining and mind controlling his victims.  His next two iterations showed a different side, bringing in an affinity for white mana and establishing Sorin as having some skill in leading and motivating creatures.  With this version of Sorin, I’ve tried to get back to his roots (as this is a much earlier version of the character).

At this point in Sorin’s life, he is following his own whims, a hedonist bathed in blood.  Additionally, his skills aren’t as honed as his later iterations, due to his neophyte status.  Designing this card was a lot of fun, and unlike many of my planeswalker designs I feel pretty confident about this one (Designing planeswalkers is hard, yo).

Three mana for a three loyalty planeswalker is nothing to write home about, but doesn’t render the card unplayable, however Sorin (intentionally) doesn’t pass the test of “can he protect himself?”.  His +1 doesn’t help you deal with any threats to him, and his -3 kills him outright if used the turn he comes out.  His +1 looks underwhelming at first, but should interact well with cheap, aggressive creatures.  His -3 can be powerful (and if you look at the card as a sorcery that cost 1BB and said “Destroy target creature.  You gain life equal to its toughness.”, it would absolutely be considered playable, and would probably be the best kill spell in the format by a decent margin.), but again it comes at a cost.  His ultimate will scream to the Kitchen Table and will probably lead to a few lifegain decks aimed at using the card.  All told, he’s fun for the right audience, but isn’t powerful in the same way a lot of Planeswalkers are – which is right about where I want him.

Would love to hear some feedback on Sorin – how do you feel about planeswalkers like this?


3 responses to “Random Card – Sorin, Hedonist of Blood

  1. antaresmtg October 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I think he’s a solid CMC 4 planeswalker. At CMC 3, planeswalkers generally don’t have straight-up card advantage on a plus ability; it’s just too good. The -3 also compares very favorably with Liliana of the Dark Realms, which is CMC 4.

    I’d say, raise the cost to 4 and you’re golden. If you want to keep him at CMC 3, you’ll have to make some powerdowns.

  2. adventmtg October 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

    The -3 I could see as a concern. Do you not think the +1 is conditional enough to be ok at this CMC?

  3. antaresmtg October 13, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Having someone lose life isn’t too hard most of the time. I’d say in an average game, there are more turns where a player loses life compared to where he doesn’t. And you can always trigger him on yourself with painlands, Sign in Blood etc.

    I made a +1 for a 4-CMC Jace which reads “Choose up to one target creature. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player this turn, draw a card.” This also requires you to get through, but even with a specific creature. I think it’s on the weaker side, but not by much.

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