Momir Vig, Simic Visionary; illustrated by Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

Simic is the green-blue guild of Ravnica, scientists and naturalists concerned with understanding and improving upon nature’s designs. Your challenge this week is to design a card for the Simic guild.

Designing for Simic

Every card serves a purpose, and the sole purpose of the Simic guild is evolution. Every deck should feel like an organism, every card a part of a grand whole.

Design Example

The example this week is Anatomist’s Tutoring, a card designed to combine natural evolution with unnatural science.

Anatomists Tutoring

The beginning idea was a card which would help create an activated ability tribal deck, a potential new archetype for Simic. I’ve also left it intentionally open-ended to encourage experimentation that befit Simic. It’s also no mistake that it has such a similar ability as Experiment Kraj, one of the most Simic cards that exists.

Before we go on with this, it's important to look at what Simic already does.

Bigger and Better

It’s impossible to talk about designing for Simic without talking about +1/+1 counters. It's the signature trait of Simic. Of course, Simic uses +1/+1 counters normally to strengthen its creatures, but it can also use them in some trickier ways.

Do you see some of the tricks with Cytoshape?

  • You can pick a creature you have like Tarmogoyf to copy onto a Aquastrand Spider which will both have the stats of Tarmogoyf and the counters!
  • You can reverse this too and target an opponent's creature like Gurmag Angler and make it a copy of Aquastrand Spider without +1/+1 counters so that it instantly dies.

Those are just a couple tricky ways to use +1/+1 counters, what’s the trickiest way you can think of? Here's what I came up with.

  • Increasing card effects based on a creature’s power or toughness
  • Removing +1/+1 counters as a cost
  • Using different triggers to get +1/+1 counters
  • Changing a creature’s base power and toughness
  • Moving +1/+1 counters between creatures
  • Triggering abilities when gaining +1/+1 counters

Life’s Grand Design

Let's go beyond +1/+1 counters now. Another possible design space for Simic is combing multiple simple activated abilities together into synergistic wholes.

For this type of design, simple is good. Focus on allowing players to convert one resource into another, and leave it to the players to figure out how to combine them. This also lends some flexibility, such as with Simic Ragworm which can combine with cards from entire other guilds like Ocular Halo to convert mana into drawing more cards, or with Experiment Kraj to allow the Kraj to spit +1/+1 counters all over. This design space is very open-ended, but if you want some guidance it can help to start by thinking of the abilities as modular engines which convert one resource into another.

Final Words

I hope this has given you all some ideas to start your designs with, I’m excited to hear all of your thoughts on Simic design. What other archetypes could fit in Simic? What would help support those archetypes? There's still so much possible to do with Simic and I look forward to seeing all of your creative designs!

A photo of Andrew EvansAndrew Evans

Andrew Evans has been playing Magic since 2000, and designing custom cards since 2007. He's a regular at FNMs, and enjoys dissecting games to figure out how they work.