Custom Card Game Design

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Dreams of Lyanar


although I mostly worked on Beginnings the last couple of weeks, I still made some progress with my Dream Set, which I presented a few months ago. It is now called Dreams of Lyanar.

An enchantment creature with Nightmare.

A quick recap: Dreams of Lyanar is an enchantment based set, where dreamborn creatures are represented as living enchantments. Unlike Theros, Lyanar will not focus on Auras but on global enchantments instead. An example of this is the Nightmare mechanic, used only on enchantment creatures. Nightmare creatures put the fear into your opponents: They must prevent the nightmare from becoming a reality at all costs.

I also experimented with an ability word named Fantasy, but not much came out of that. They will reappear in a different form, though. When you are drafting your set, someone from the core group is always missing, and you have to fill up with someone who has never drafted the format before. These people will always claim that they have no idea what they are doing and that their deck is terrible — and sometimes it actually is. This issue I want to alleviate with the Fantasies. They are a cycle of uncommon, multicolored global enchantments that change the game rules in some way.

They are all symmetrical, but you can draft around them to break the symmetry. For example, the blue-white one will have the Doran effect, changing the rules so that each creature deals damage equal to its toughness instead. Such gimmicky build-around cards are very popular in casual drafts and they give first-time drafters a way to say “Ok, I have no idea what this format is about, but this card looks fun. I am going to draft this deck.” Besides Nightmare and Fantasies, I have two more mechanics planned. These are Dreamscape and Sleepwalk.

A common creature with the dreamscape ability.


Dreamscape is an ability word that signals an ability that works only if you control three or more enchantments. This might seem a bit boring, just a mere clone of Metalcraft, but I do believe that it fits perfectly into a slow, global enchantment based set.

With Dreamscape, you can do basically the exact same things as you can do with Metalcraft. It is nice to have a simple mechanic in a set for once, something which I am not known for.

A common Aura granting Sleepwalk.


Sleepwalk on the other hand is a bit more complex. It is an evasion mechanic for creatures:

Sleepwalk (This creature can only be blocked by tapped creatures.)

This is an evasion mechanic I can get behind. I understand that limited needs creatures with evasion or Falter type effects so that games come to a conclusion eventually, but they always play out very uninteractively. Sleepwalk creatures almost guarantee that at least one creature can attack (if no creature can attack, then sleepwalk creatures can attack!), but you can interact with them by just attacking yourself. If your opponent has a good defense, it will not be that easy, but you can try.

While the reminder text for sleepwalk is fairly simple, the actual correct rules text would be far more confusing. Other rules of blocking still apply — a creature with sleepwalk can only be blocked by tapped creatures that could block that creature if they were untapped and if that creature did not have sleepwalk.

Sleepwalk is not my original design, but a design from Socrates of MTGSalvation.

Rímen and Myldis

To round things up, here is the second planeswalker for ‘Dreams of Lyanar’, the other being Ashiok. This card actually represents a planeswalker duo and has two planeswalker types. The duo consists of two lovers,  Rímen and Myldis. Rímen is a red aligned human planeswalker. He traveled the multiverse without a greater purpose, reveling in a care free life and living only for the day. But his travels left him ultimately unfulfilled. He heard rumors of Lyanar, a plane where your dreams can become reality. Though he was sceptical, he had nothing better to do, so he took his chances and traveled to this mythical plane. On one night, while he was sleeping, the plane answered and endowed him with what he truly desired — a companion with whom he can share the wonders of the multiverse. And so the elven planeswalker Myldis came into existence.

The human mage Rímen and the dreamborn elf Myldis.

But Myldis does not know that she is a dreamborn. She inherited Rímen’s adventurous nature and constantly urges him that they leave Lyanar and continue to explore other worlds. But being a creation of the plane, she cannot exist outside its boundaries and planeswalking away would instantly kill her. So, he has to come up with more and more excuses why they cannot leave the plane yet, meanwhile trying to find out more about the magic of Lyanar.

Rímen and Myldis is the overhaul of my earlier Ajani design. The ability to copy a loyalty ability transformed into the static ability to activate two loyalty abilities each turn. The loyalty abilities are designed in a way to allow for many different combinations and synergies. Both planeswalkers of this pair share the first ability, each granting keywords of their respective color to a creature. Myldis is represented on the second ability and Rímen on the third. As Myldis is a dreamborn, she produces enchantment creature tokens.

While the synergies between the abilities are cool, they make Rímen and Myldis very deck independent and just a plain, good card — a card that will go into every deck in their colors. That is something I dislike, and their abilities might still be changed because of it.


Ashiok, Dreamwaker


the Esparand block testing revealed that blue-black is slightly inferior to other color combinations and control decks in those colors are struggling. With my yet unnamed Dream set being the next set in my Custom Standard cycle, I want to give Dimir mages a new, exciting toy to make their opponent’s life miserable. And since this will be a set focused on dream and nightmare, and Ashiok is a blue and black aligned planeswalker all about making your opponent’s life miserable, it seemed like a perfect fit. How could it be not in the set, right? So, here is Ashiok, Dreamwaker:

Ashiok, Dreamwaker is built to be used in control mirrors, where the +1 ability can be very devastating. When facing an aggro opponent, Ashiok will have a good chance of facing an empty-handed opponent and be much less effective. The ability lets the opponent draw a card, so it never actually generates straight-up card advantage. But that does not mean much, when the only card you are worried about is Illusions of Finitude. With the second ability, you get to steal the stuff you exiled, which I think is Ashiok’s “thing” (maybe if we see Ashiok again, it will do something entirely different). The ultimate is powerful, given that you can rip your opponent from answers to Ashiok and ultimate very easily.

I have briefly tested it, and on an empty board against another control deck it is not even remotely beatable. Its defensive capabilities are very lackluster, but it’s identical to Jace, Memory Adept in that regard, and he has managed to become a roleplayer in Standard.

What do you guys think?

A Set of Dream and Fantasy


Eternity is finally completed! Check out the full spoiler here, or take a look at an example booster. But now for something completely different:

Dreams and Nightmares Come to Life

I have been brewing up a new set lately, a set based on dream, nightmare and fantasy. It will be another top-down set, similar to Iamur. It does not have a name yet, so I will just refer to it as ‘Dream’ for now. The setting is a plane where the dreams of its people manifest in the physical world. I started with developing a mechanic for nightmare creatures, and then wanted to see where this leads me to. On this plane, dreamborn creatures are living enchantments, similar to the celestial creatures of Theros. This is portrayed in the ‘Nightmare’ mechanic:

Nightmare {cost} (You may cast this spell for its nightmare cost. If you do, it isn’t a creature until you manifest it.)

Nightmare is only found on enchantment creatures. It allows you to pay an alternate, cheaper cost for the spell. However, you must then manifest the creature and allow it to enter the physical realm. Otherwise, you only have a useless enchantment. Whether or when a creature manifests is usually up to your opponent. The fear of your lurking monster will force the opponent to play differently, or otherwise it will manifest. Here is a very simple example:

A common nightmare creature.

Many nightmare creatures demand a toll from the opponent to keep them from manifesting. In fact, I am considering that all common nightmare creatures share Stirring Fiend’s template and drain the opponent’s life to keep the complexity low. But there are many more possibilities at higher rarities. Some will trigger when an opponent performs a certain action:

An uncommon nightmare creature.

At rare and maybe uncommon, I consider creatures that already have an effect on the game while they are only an enchantment.

So, an Enchantment Set it is!

The nightmare mechanic went through various iterations before I arrived at the current version. When I did, it became clear that this is going to be an enchantment-focused set. However, to differentiate it from Theros, in ‘Dream’ you will not build your own battleships with Auras and Bestow creatures, but play global enchantments and build your own world. I tried to convey this with the ‘Fantasy’ mechanic. Fantasy is an ability word found on enchantments:

Fantasy — At the beginning of your end step, {action X}. Then if {condition Y}, sacrifice this.

A dream often has no coherent plot, but continually gets weirder and weirder, until eventually you wake up. A fantasy enchantment performs a certain action repeatedly, until the “wake-up condition” is met, at which point it will sacrifice itself. Before I show you an example though, let me state something important that I want to convey on these cards: Dreams do not make sense! They are surreal, paradoxical and incoherent. To uphold this is even more important in a fantasy-game like Magic. Dreams cannot be just about giant spiders and wurms, because they already exist! That being said, here is a fantasy:

A fantasy enchantment.

Some of these fantasies allow you to play in a way so that you never meet the “wake-up condition,” just like you can sometimes keep yourself in a dream willingly. Others will sacrifice themselves inevitably. I might want to create cards with effects that do not trigger at the beginning of the end step, so it is possible that the ability word is changed to include those cards as well.

Supertype Inflation

Many people complained about Theros, that it had too many types artificially attached to various cards, such as “Legendary Enchantment Artifact.” This will be true in ‘Dream’ as well. There will be creatures that do not have Nightmare but are still enchantment creatures. These represent dreamborn creatures that did not spawn from a nightmare. But the enchantment type must make sense from a mechanical point, too. I think Theros’s method of putting global effects on enchantment creatures (Cyclops of Eternal Fury) works very well.

An enchantment due to its enchantment-esque effect.

Similarly, I cannot make an enchantment out of every monster. There have to be commons that do simple things, yet still represent nightmarish creatures. Maybe these creatures walked the physical plane long enough that they stopped being tied to the dream from which they spawned?

Unlike the elf, this creature clearly spawned from a nightmare!

Nonenchantment mechanics

The set still needs one or two more mechanics which do not deal with enchantments, as they are covered sufficiently already. Scry will return in ‘Dream’, but will not be as prominent as in Esparand. I am thinking of something instant- and sorcery-based as the last mechanic.

That is all I have come up with so far. As always, you can check out a preview of the set under Our Projects. Let me finish this post with another preview card from ‘Dream.’ A… basic Swamp!

The surreal nature of dreams will reflect in the art I choose for the set.

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