Arabian Nights Remake (Retro Set Design)

edited December 2021 in Custom Card Sets
Arabian Nights, its classic. Its a legendary book, a couple movies, and one magic set.

That magic set is iconic, but small and incomplete by todays standards. Let’s change that!

I’d love some help brainstorming for a small “beginners” set designed for draft, inspired by the early days of magic, while incorporating more modern design principles and broader Central-Asian flavor. I’m thinking Rivals of Ixalan as a set skeleton.

I’d also like to bring back some retro creature types that aren’t really supported anymore, but haven’t been done away with, namely: Nomads and Mystics.  Also, I’d like to expand the support for Djinn and Nobles, two of my favorite creature types.

I have some ideas for draft archetypes, tribal identity and such, with a couple dozen cards made so far, but I’d like to test the waters of peoples interest level.

From a mechanical standpoint: Taking a more conservative approach to the color pie, in line with older school sets. Making the differences between colors more distinct, and where they intersect more unique.

Flavor themes I’d like help in exploring: Scarcity, Faith, and Tribalism.

I’m open to all sorts of suggestions, ideas, and critiques and collabs.



  • Seems like the expanded Arabian Nights set should extend the use of Deserts like Amonkhet and Hour of Devistation did since they find their origin in Arabian Nights.
  • @Jadefire Yes I totally agree. I think Nomads will interact most directly with deserts. And Gruul Nomads as a draft archetype especially so. 

    As to what the deserts themselves will do, that I don’t know. Where do you think that could be taken?
  • Maybe with Deserts you could have a cycle of nonbasic Desert lands that enter tapped and could tap for one of the colors, similar to the "Desert of the [god domain]" from Hour of Devastation. Maybe Deserts that have another ability based on having specific kinds of creatures, since you want Faith and Tribalism as flavor themes.
  • Maybe an uncommon cycle of Deserts that have the ability to come in untapped in you meet a certain requirement? Like the chill lands.

    Also, here’s a few rough ideas for what the tribes might care about mechanically.

    (Naya) Nomads: Deserts, Tokens

    (Orzhov) Nobles: Sacrifice, Treasures

    (Grixis) Djinn: Something to do with the number 3. Maybe “At the beginning of each end step, if exactly three spells were cast this turn, [effect].

    (Simic) Mystics: Second card drawn each turn, +1/+1 counters.

  • @Rayne-Lord Nomads would be a good creature type to pair with Deserts.  For token generators, you could bring back Sand Warriors as seen on Hazezon Tamar or just Sand creatures as seen on Dune-Brood Nephilim.

    Rather than just doing functional reprints of existing lands, except with the Desert subtype, they can be treated as an accumulating resource.  I like that Hour of Devastation made Deserts into an consumable resource with effects that require the sacrifice of a Desert.  You could go the other way with that as well and treat them like Gates with effects that count the number of Deserts you control and "turn on" at certain thresholds (# controlled by you or # on the battlefield).
  • Hey so I definitely love the call back with Sand Warriors. So I’m curious if the wording on either of those cards precludes Sand from being a super type, similar to snow? 

    Also I like the idea of tracking deserts. However that still meaning we’ve gotta determine whether the deserts have any unique abilities of their own. 
  • I think for the sake of clarity, it would be wise not to give a supertype and a creature type the same name.  Unfortunately, the Sand creature type was there first, maybe Arid type could be an alternative.  Were you planning on using it in exactly the same way as Snow (i.e., as a mana type, as a permanent type, and as an instant/sorcery type) or in a more limited way?

    What do you mean unique abilities for Deserts?  Like a particular ability/characteristic that would be common to many or all of them within your set or an unspoken, built-in ability like how any land that's a Forest taps for {g} even without it being mentioned in the card text?  The first scenario seems more feasible since other Desert-type lands exist and you won't be retroactively changing the way they work with your new set.
  • Ideas on Scarcity:

    - Lands: One thing can be cards that reward you for having less lands.  Nomads benefit from being homeless, so have them get a benefit when you have less lands than their casting cost.   Other cards can benefit from 3 lands or less. 

     Cards representing desperation, a siege, famine, drought are thematically appropriate.  This ties in with a Deserts as an expendable land resource theme from Ahmonket.  Cards that let you sac a land/desert play in as well. 

    Old School Stone Rain becomes a double-edged sword with this type of card in play. Sure you can destroy that City of Brass but now your opponent only has 3 lands.

    Common cycle of desert ruins like the lands from Fallen Empires.  All Deserts, come into play tapped unless you control 2 or fewer lands.  Once tapped, you can sacrifice them for 1colorless mana?  

    Nomads:  Strong match between wandering the lands theme and sacrificing them.  
    Red: sac a land to reveal cards from your graveyard until you get a land, put it into play, and shuffle revealed cards back into your library.
    Green: sac a land to mana bump & fix?
    White:  If you're going old school have a new Armageddon land wipe with White weenie nomads benefitting from you having no lands in play you might pair well.

    Mystics - hey cheap tap for mana types who needs lands, right?

    The idea of an intrnal dichotomy is there.   
    The nomads wanting less land.
    The Mystics & Djinn don't need it so much (Tap for mana, treasures)
    The Nobles are iconically all about wanting all the land they can get, and are the ones that can treat the land as an accumulating resource.

    - Cards in hand - Like Hellbent but not the same, maybe with 2 cards?
    Adding a line "if you have 2 or less cards in your hand, draw a card." would let you blow though cards without running out.  As a beginners set, you might want to limit.

    - Cards in Graveyard - Sort of a reverse threshold, something that is better when you have no cards in your graveyard.  Enabled by cannibal black things that eat cards in your graveyard.  Black Djinn cards that remove cards from a graveyard to make treasure?

    Idea on Faith:   Draft = small 40 card deck, right?  Limited card choice plays into having faith in the card you will be getting.

    So make something like clash, where you reveal the top card of your library and get a benefit if a condition is met.    One way would be to reward a card of the same type.  To stress tribal, the condition would be another card in the tribe.  For cycling deserts, reward for drawing a land (because you had a land and did not want another?)
  • I don't think you have mentioned it yet. will it be too much to bring back the sphinxes? 
  • Lots of talk, no rock. Can we start submitting cards as a method of brainstorming?
  • If this set is a remake of Arabian Nights, it could be approached the way Theros treated Greek mythology or the way Throne of Eldraine treated fairy tales, by taking the same stories but rebranding the characters under different names, since Aladdin, Sinbad, and Ali are already taken.  Alternatively, it could be approached like a Timespiral alternate universe if you want to keep the characters the same but modify their storylines.
  • edited December 2021
    @SMPrague Possibly, I’ve already planned on making Lamassus as that is an obscure under-explored creature type that is on-flavor, and they kinda fill the same niche.

    @Jadefire Thanks for clearing that up about the types. I was just spit balling. As far as land abilities, like should deserts have abilities in addition to mana abilities? I do like the idea of something like the Fast lands, as that goes with the idea of scarcity, but how could we differentiate them..? Also in regards to flavor, I see this as a “remake” only in spirit. Certain cards and abilities could see a call back, but i dont feel the need to retell those stories. More so just give it a nostalgic vibe, while expanding that sweet central/near-eastern flavor. Also, i do intend this to have a original fantasy setting, rather than a pastiche of the real world.

    @mmm3creator You’ve got some really good ideas here. I’m too tired atm to unpack them all, or riff any cards off them. But I shall soon.

    @jpastor yessir! I’ll try and post some cards tomorrow to this thread. Feel free anyone to post card ideas too! Lovin everyone’s engagement :smiley:

  • edited December 2021
    Here’s a rough idea for an ability word that works off of some of what y’all said. Wat do we think? I also love keyword actions, so maybe we could come up with something like that instead?

    Also ideas I have to address concept of tribalism- using the phrase unkeyworded “Shares a color with [cardname]”  throughout the set to encourage deckbuilding

    Further on that same thought, but also playing off ideas of faith - Ordain. Maybe a Noble/Mystic heavy mechanic?

    Ordain (As you cast this spell you may tap an untapped Human you control that shares a
    color with it. If you do, this spell becomes ordained)

    Just to clarify what I meant about tribalism - While this is a tribal set in the magic sense- I also wanted to explore the idea of “tribalism” as a sociocultural phenomenon. In-groups and out-groups shall we say.
  • Would Goblins of the Flarg be an example of this tribalism (i.e., certain creature types don't work together and there are penalties if you control competing tribes)?

    I also like the idea of treating Deserts like a version of fast lands and/or giving them other additional abilities.  Otherwise, they'd be more akin to Mirrodin's artifact lands, functionally like basics but with a very situational upside.  I guess the trick with going with a theme of land scarcity is rewarding the player for sticking with fewer lands rather than punishing them for having too many lands.

    Perhaps during the player's upkeep, if they control N or fewer lands, the land gets some type of counter and a bonus unlocks when the land has 2-3 of these counters.  That way, the bonus isn't available immediately on turns 1-2, it incentivizes players to slow roll their land drops even when they have them, and it incidentally mitigates being mana screwed.  Maybe like level up, the bonus even scales or there are different abilities that become available the more of these counters the land collects.

    There wasn't enough card space but I had a second ability I wanted on the card:
    {t}: Add {c}{c}. Activate only if Burgeoning Conservatory has four or more growth counters on it.
    If the counter-adding ability was keyworded, it could possibly fit.
  • I love that design as its own thing. I’m not sure if its quite what I’m looking for.
  • No problem.  On to the next idea then.
  • Maybe you may choose a theme on particular (even more particular XD) and we rain ideas for that?
    Mmmm... For example: 
    We focus on nomads and their mechanics, and how to create synergies between them.
    Here I have seen one that I really liked: rewarding for having lessers land. Therefore we should find mechanics that allow us to generate extra mana without increasing our amount of lands. 

  • What about a land that generates an amount of mana equal to the difference between the number of lands you control and the player who controls the most lands?
  • edited December 2021
    Maybe something like this? Or now that I’ve thought about it, if the name and flavor of Burgeoning Conservatory were changed, maybe with depletion counters, or desolation counters it could work.

    @SMPrague I think thats a wonderful idea!

    I think commons and uncommons are great places to start as we can always scale up from there.

    Some specific ideas to jumpstart inspiration:

    Naya Nomads - reintroduce [red, green, and white Sand Warrior creature tokens.]
    Red Nomads - Bandits. Land Sacrifice/Discard. 

    Green Nomads - Wanderers. Ramp. 

    White Nomads - Tough. Caravans. Recursion

    1. Selesnya Nomads: Selesnya cares about the number of deserts in play. Go-Wide support

    2. Boros Nomads: Boros cares about having fewer non-desert lands. Aggro-Support

    3. Gruul Nomads: Gruul cares most about deserts entering the battlefield. Go Tall- Support

  • I think that as a whole set, while all the colors will interact in some way with deserts, Red will have the most direct interactions (gut-instinct). I think Nomads a tribe should interact with Lands in general, and Deserts in particular. And create tokens.

    I’m still thinking about a set-wide mechanic. I really like my Ordain mechanic mentioned previously, but I also feel its a bit on the safe side. Which is fine. But I’m curious if theres any new horizon to be explored?
  • I just made Burgeoning Conservatory as an example of how a mechanic that rewards having fewer lands might look.  I wouldn't suggest a card in exactly that form for a Desert-based set.  Perhaps it could be an Oasis card if it's supposed to represent limited abundance or Oasis could be expanded to become a new land subtype that's the antithesis of Deserts just like in Arabian Nights.

    Your breakdown of the Nomad colour pie looks good.
  • I was thinking about the few lands.
    Perhaps some nomads might have a skill that says something like:
    Every time this creature deals damage to a player add {1}.
    or something similar to a lifelink, but that instead of granting life grants mana.

  • That’s an interesting idea!
  • edited December 2021
    Here’s a couple of ideas. I think I want to have a “tribal revealer” such as Renowned Wayfarer for each tribe. 

  • Ahhh and to support the idea this:
    Locust Plague:
    Like a sorcery
    The Locust Plague deals each player an amount of damage equal to the lands they control.
    Like a enchantment 
    {2}: Locust Plague deals 5 damage to the player with the most lands in game.
    Like a creature:
    {t}: Locust Plague deal X damage To the player who controls the most lands. Where X is the amount of Locust Plague you control.

    Another idea:
    Inclement drought.
    Play this spell as long as you control one or more deserts. If at the end of your turn you don't control any desert, destroy it.
    Each player can only untap up to three lands during his or her untap step.

  • edited December 2021
    What do you guys think about a ability for nobles called: Eminent Domain — When(ever) [Cardname] (ETB/attacks/deals combat damage), gain control of target non-Desert land you dont control.
  • I did something similar.

  • Given the cap on land plays per turn and how integral they are to even being able to play Magic, abundant land destruction (including removal of any type like bounce and theft) makes for a very unfun environment.
  • @Jadefire Well yes, it can be but I’ve always thought land destruction was a valid strat. Also, i may do a Noble stealing a land, but it would probably only be on a rare, and cost at least somewhere between 4-6 mana depending on the creatures stats as well.
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