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Brian’s Old School Custom Set – Black

Brian BlackWay back in in the fall of 2004, which would be roughly between the end of the first Mirrodin block and the beginning of Kamigawa block, Brian decided he wanted to try his hand at set design.  So he created a set of 150 cards.  Other than a bit of templating work and updating to include new terminology and keywords, these cards exist exactly as Brian originally created them.  It’s an interesting look back at the way sets were designed back then, as well as the way Brian took the old design philosophies in his own direction. Chewie and Mike added some commentary just for good measure too. You can see the White and Blue cards too.  We hope you enjoy this trip back as much as we do!

On to black.  There’s a number of Rat cards here, largely because Kamigawa hadn’t been even spoiled yet and I had always liked cards like Plague Rats and Lab Rats.  Black has been through many signature small signature creature types like zombies (and more recently vampires), and I thought that the rats should have a shot.  A lot of black’s creatures here are into sacrifice, and cards like Death Contract and Body Exchange play off of this theme as well.  Consumer of Rot harkens back to drawbacks like Desecration Elemental, and may not belong at uncommon, but some of my cards were clearly designed with concept first and rarity consideration second (if at all).  One Hundred Blind Eyes is probably the card I would be most interested in seeing the art for in black, if not the whole set.  Slave to the Moon was my attempt at making a “good” werewolf ages before Innistrad.


Batskin Cape
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+1 and has fear.

Mike – Hocus Pocus, I’m a bat!

Chewie – What Mike said.


Death Contract
As an additonal cost to cast Death Contract, sacrifice a creature.
Destroy target creature.  It can’t be regenerated.

Chewie – Odd, this card still hasn’t been printed yet. There’s Bone Splinters, which is cheaper and slower. There’s Flesh Allergy, which is slower with more upside. And there’s Death Bomb, which has the nonblack restriction but causes a small loss of life.  I’m surprised they haven’t made this one yet.


Disgusting Leech
Creature – Leech
Whenever a creature blocks or is blocked by Disgusting Leech, that creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.


Gliding Shade
Creature – Bat Shade
B:  Gliding Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.


Creature – Rat Zombie
Whenever Necrorat deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature.  It can’t be regenerated.
1B:  Regenerate Necrorat

Mike – Because it specifies “combat damage”, this is a card that wouldn’t have been retconned to use deathtouch.


Pet Rat
Creature – Rat
Sacrifice Pet Rat:  Target player discards a card.

Mike – Any instant-speed discard is very powerful.  Since these guys don’t cost mana to activate, I wouldn’t be shy about running them in a serious deck.


Plague Cloud
Creature – Minion
T, Sacrifice Plague Cloud:  All creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn.


Rat Cannibal
Creature – Rat
Sacrifice a creature:  Rat Cannibal gets +2/+1 until end of turn.


Rotting Flesh
Destroy target nonartifact creature.

Mike – More foreshadowing from Brian.



Body Exchange
As an additional cost to cast Body Exchange, sacrifice a creature.
Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Draw a card.

Mike – Is there a catchy term like “card advantage” for effects that don’t put you ahead but make your current situation so much better?  I don’t know if I’ve heard one that adequately represents it.

Chewie – Um…let’s call it Miked.  “Yeah dude, I was dead on board until I Miked up and crushed that guy!”


Consumer of Rot
Creature – Beast
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, sacrifice a creature.


Corpse Eater
Creature – Zombie
At the beginning of your upkeep, you draw X cards and you lose X life, where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard.
At the beginning of your draw step, exile all creature cards in your graveyard.

Mike – I understand why the card works this way, but the flavor ends up being kind of weird.  If I knew someone who punched me in the head every time he ate, I would stop inviting him over for dinner.  In today’s world, I could see this card printed as some kind of mythic rare where you gain life instead of losing it.


Dark Places
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant Land
Enchanted land has “1B, T:  Target player discards a card.  Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.”


Horde of Rats
Creature – Rat
Horde of Rats gets +1/+1 for each other Rat on the battlefield.
2B, discard a card:  Put a 1/1 black Rat creature token onto the battlefield.

Chewie – I like this.  Turn cards in hand that are not so good into more vermin.  Works especially great with a Bad Moon, or maybe a Heartstone.


One Hundred Blind Eyes
Creature – Horror
Fear, swampwalk
One Hundred Blind Eyes can’t block.

Mike – I think the only reason this wasn’t given the Eye creature type is that at the time there was still only one in the entire game (shut up, Mistform Ultimus; you don’t count).


Rat Sage
Creature – Rat Wizard
T:  Target player loses 1 life.


Selective Punishment
Each player sacrifices a creature, then loses life equal to the sacrificed creature’s power.



Blood Lord
Creature – Vampire
Whenever a creature dealt damage this turn by a creature you control is put into a graveyard, put a +1/+1 counter on Blood Lord.

Mike – Solves the problem where Sengir Vampire hardly ever gets counters because no one wants to block in a way that lets it happen.

Chewie – I agree. I also like that it doesn’t specify combat damage, so you can have fun abusing it with pingers and stuff.


Fallen Hero
Creature – Zombie Warrior
Whenever a nonblack creature blocks Fallen Hero, destroy that creature.


Famine Demon
Creature – Demon
Whenever Famine Demon attacks, nonblack creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn.

Chewie – Guys, can I print this out and put it in my Spirit of the Night EDH deck?


Rampant Death
At the end of each player’s turn, that player sacrifices a creature.
When there are no creature on the battlefield, sacrifice Rampant Death.

Mike – There’s a notable theme in this set for encouraging playing heavy, heavy black.


Slave to the Moon
Creature – Wolf Minion
At the beginning of your upkeep, Slave to the Moon gets +7/+7 until end of turn.


Soul Crush
Spend only B on X.
Target player loses X life.  You gain X life.

Mike – I wonder if he took a hint from Volcanic Geyser, turning an existing X-sorcery effect into an instant by doubling the “base cost”.


Waste of the Mind
As an additional cost to cast Waste of the Mind, sacrifice a creature.
You draw X cards and target opponent discards X cards, where X is the sacrificed creature’s converted mana cost.

Mike – “End of your turn, un-morph Scornful Egotist.”

Chewie – Man, is there anything that guy can’t do?

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  1. tom
    December 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    No Chewie, Scornful Egotist can do anything. Additionally, i like all of Brain’s cards here, except i think that leech would be kinda busted in limited environments. Block with two leaches, your guy gets -2/-2 before combat damage. And then late game start sacking them when they are done killing your opponenets small guys for crazy advantage.

    Yes i spent to much time thinking about that card, i also have a flanking deck 🙂

  2. December 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Scornful egotist is also a floor wax and a dessert topping!

  3. Myke Okuhara
    December 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Correct me if I’m wrong but before Kamigawa, there weren’t any anthropomorphised rats, either. The “Rat Wizard” was definitely ahead of its time.

  4. Banzai_Tree
    December 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious, did you guys proxy up these cards and play any Limited with them (then or more recently)? Any firsthand Limited experience with these would be greatly appreciated as I’m working on a little something. Maybe drop me an email?

    • Mike
      December 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Brian sleeved enough for some boosters and packaged them up, but we didn’t get to do a straight limited game. We drafted a couple packs to build a “sideboard” that we could access during a regular game by replacing a draw with taking one of those cards at random. Sadly, I remember no specifics about gameplay.

  5. Austin
    December 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Get Miked Fool!!!

  6. Jolo Vergara de Jesus
    December 20, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    could you guys, like, err, play a live game with these cards after all 150 cards have been revealed? i don’t know how, or what format, or if we would even understand the games, given the cards are not that familiar. maybe if you could changed all these and, using any random card maker app, turn them to magic-looking cards, the info would be better retained…but too much work for you guys i think. 😀

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