Way 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.
Enchantment – Aura
Enchanted creature gets +2/+1 and has fear.
Mike – Hocus Pocus, I’m a bat!
Chewie – What Mike said.
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.
Creature – Leech
Whenever a creature blocks or is blocked by Disgusting Leech, that creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.
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.
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.
Creature – Minion
T, Sacrifice Plague Cloud: All creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn.
Creature – Rat
Sacrifice a creature: Rat Cannibal gets +2/+1 until end of turn.
Destroy target nonartifact creature.
Mike – More foreshadowing from Brian.
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.
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.
Enchantment – Aura
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.
One Hundred Blind Eyes
Creature – Horror
One Hundred Blind Eyes can’t block.
Creature – Rat Wizard
T: Target player loses 1 life.
Each player sacrifices a creature, then loses life equal to the sacrificed creature’s power.
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.
Creature – Zombie Warrior
Whenever a nonblack creature blocks Fallen Hero, destroy that creature.
Creature – Demon
Whenever Famine Demon attacks, nonblack creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn.
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.
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?