HYBRIDS! And Not The Simic Kind! (Sponsored by Murkletins)

Hybrid mana was first introduced in the set Ravnica: City of Guilds, and has since become one of the most popular mechanics in MTG. It has since appeared across a variety of sets and a variety of planes, earning it a status as a deciduous mechanic, a mechanic that can appear in a set when it fits mechanically or flavorfully within the set without being counted directly as a “set mechanic.” For example, it has most recently appeared in Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths, where it helped give certain cards additional flexibility as to which decks they could be played in. Despite its popularity, though, designing hybrid cards can be one of the more challenging cardsmithing tasks due to the very strict (and oftentimes quite contentious) set of requirements that determine whether or not a hybrid card is a color pie break, and even the official Magic: The Gathering R&D breaks their own “hybrid philosophy” from time to time due to how difficult it can be to fulfill while remaining innovative (granted it will often be done in the interest of exploring space a certain color doesn’t typically get access to). That being said, these same design difficulties extend to our cardsmithing community. Oftentimes, hybrid cards will be designed in such a way that very obviously breaks the color pie, because in our gut most of us are using our understanding of gold cards to design them. Why have we yet to properly define what “hybrid philosophy” is? Well, that’s because it’s part of our challenge for you. Your task is to cards that use hybrid mana as the only colored mana in the casting cost. I will be co-judging this contest with @Arceus8523.

Firstly, let’s start with the rules:
  • The only qualification for your entry is that the casting cost of the card contains hybrid mana as the only colored mana in the casting cost (of course, this means you can still use generic mana).
  • Your card can be created through any card creator/editor (MTGCS, MSE, etc.). (You can thank @Arceus8523 for that one.)
  • Editing your entry is allowed up until we call for judging.
  • You may enter up to three cards. While not required, it would be convenient if you put all of the cards you wish to enter in one post as images (For help with html, go here: http://forums.mtgcardsmith.com/discussion/809/tutorial-forum-post-coding).
  • If you coin a new keyword or mechanic and don't define it within at least one of your cards, you must explain the keyword somewhere within your entry.
  • Cards you have created previously that fulfill the contest requirements are allowed. (Old cards are allowed)
  • Only your strongest entry will be considered when determining final rankings, however we will be prepared to give feedback on each of your entries.
  • Arceus and I welcome explanations on the context, thought process, and/or development process behind your entries, if you wish to provide it. It can give us greater context on your entries while judging.
  • While not required, it may benefit you to include brief context on the format which each of your cards was designed to be legal in. If no format is stated for a card, we will assume it was designed for the current standard format, up through Zendikar Rising.
Arceus and I will be judging the contest using the following general criteria, in order of most important to least important (points 4 and 5 are about equal):
1. Does this card work as a hybrid mana card in its color pairing?
2. How creative is this card? Does it push hybrid mana design space for its color pairing without becoming unreasonable or a break? If it does become unreasonable or a break, how clear is it that the designer was trying to take a calculated risk with their designs?
3. How well thought out is this card? How “clean” is the design? Is it balanced for the format it is intended to be played in? Do the abilities all have a clear reason to be on the card, whether mechanically or flavorfully?
4. How “clean” is the card from a syntax and appearance standpoint? Can we clearly understand what the card does? Does it largely follow proper MTG language and syntax? Is there any text running off the text box? Is the art of quality generally comparable to official MTG art? Is the art unique, and not a piece of art already used on an official MTG card? Is the artist credited? Minor wording errors likely won’t cause anybody’s entry to drop in the standings, but show that you took some time making sure your card looks clean, reads well, and has the proper artist credit.
5. How strong is the flavor/lore of the card? Is there any clear/strong flavor or lore at all? This doesn’t have to be specifically flavor text, but can also involve name, art, mechanics, etc.

(As it stands, the prizes are undetermined but are going to be of some value and sponsored by everyone's favorite fox, @murkletins!)

The contest will close for judging on 9/24/20 at 11:59 EST. Arceus and I highly recommend you do some research on "What makes a hybrid card a hybrid card?" and "What can cause a hybrid card to break the color pie?" This really is a tricky area of design, so it behooves you to prepare as opposed to just diving right in. Good luck everyone!


  • Oh lord that was a lot of words, hopefully we didn't scare anyone away with that!
  • I love this idea! May I submit an old entry?
  • That is covered in the rules @shadow123!
  • Aha! I must’ve skipped over it. Thanks!
  • My three entries:

    I suppose formats for the first two are debatable (maybe older formats would be best fits), but the Voldaren Reprobate was intended for SOI standard/limited.
  • edited October 2020
    Stonecaller Mystic Uncover the Sword Dance of the Corrupter
  • edited September 2020
    First two submissions.
    Will probably be updated as I get feedback.

    I guess this is intended for 60 card deck formats.

    link to the cardsmith version:
    I could see this being used in commander.
    My main inspiration for this card was taken from Fullmetal Alchemist when someone performs The Taboo.
  • @SpellPiper2213 The wording for the second ability on the w/b hybrid spell would be "Whenever you cast a black spell, you may destroy target tapped creature."
  • edited September 2020
  • edited September 2020
    Light Brigade ChargerSnowsquall

  • edited September 2020
    My first entry. I'll compile them all into a single comment for ease of judge access once all of them exist. I'll keep my longhand design process writeups in the individual comments, though, unless you specifically want them collected up.

    Since you said a brief write-up on design logistics might be welcomed, here we go:

    Black and green share aspects of the color pie in profiting from creature death, returning creatures (and also other stuff, but they agree a lot on creatures) from your graveyard to your hand, and in creature sacrifice. Admittedly each of these things tends to be far more one color than the other, but they both do them. Those are the three things the card does.

    As the set symbol might suggest, the card's aimed vaguely at Return to Ravnica. There's no incredible reason for it being this Ravnica block over either of the other two, since all of them employed hybrid mana and the idea of at least some Trolls being part of the Golgari Swarm as manipulators of creature cards in relation to graveyards.

    I'm sure I can ramble on about various minor flavor choices and the like, but that's the mechanical basis.

  • image

    Accompanying notes are in the comments.

  • edited September 2020
    Mourning Veteran and Gyre Reviser are new. Misaki, Resolute Guardian is old:

    Mourning VeteranGyre ReviserMisaki Resolute Guardian
  • edited September 2020
    Entry #1: Azura, the Shimmering Dusk:


    Text for previous version:
    So ye, card notes, hexproof is definitely a keyword both shared by blue and green so that seems fine. Where i can see potential issues is its second ability, starting with the tokens, green usually doesn't do much with making flyers, but it can, usually for flavor reasons, which i believe works here (honestly I'm not the judge so that's up to you). For its second ability granting insurance to all other creatures definitely fits green more, but i believe blue can use it as well, especially when it comes in faerie flavor. This is definitely intended to be a flavorful card if anything, so i hope that comes across. As for formats this could see play in, i can see this getting some play in a standard format, although i do not know how well this would fit in current standard.

    So ye, card notes v2: Let's start with the most questionable part, flying on a green card, a rare phenomenon, usually used for flavor or a corresponding creature type, like Hornet Queen and Foe-Razer Regent, as examples. Faeries have flying, thus this Faerie Noble protector of the local fae, has flying as well. Hexproof has been exchanged for the "~ can't be countered" text, which is still something found on both green and blue cards as well as making the card itself a bit more coherent, putting more emphasis on its second ability and making the card just a bit stronger in the matchups it wants to be in. For its second (or third, including flying) ability granting insurance to all other creatures definitely fits green more (looking at cards like Thorn Lieutenant), but i believe blue can use it as well, especially when it comes in faerie flavor. For the tokens having flying, well, the same logic applies as used for Azura herself having flying. This card frankly still banks a lot on the flavor i intend it to have, but i can see this card seeing a lot more play with its change in abilities, it would be make an excellent sideboard card against some of em pesky control decks, not being able to be countered and once on the board, making non-boardwhipe removal a lot less effective, so i can see this seeing play in standard at least.

    So ehh (v2), i don't know if this was the intended way for a breakdown like this, but if anyone wanted to know anything about the flavor or my design choices, feel free to ask in the card's comments. I'll upload/adjust more entries as i make em, making this blurb was (still) fun though.

    Entry #2: Gravegrown Elemental


    Alrighty, black, green and reanimation, a tried and true classic. Altough trample and haste aren't the most common on black cards, black isn't very picky when it comes to keywords either. I feel like this reanimation effects also fits decently well with both black and green (although green has less self-reanimation). Either way, this card feels quite strong to me, but i can't say for certain how balanced i expect it to be, although this is definitely designed for constructed formats, perhaps it would have a home in a standard or even modern.

    So again, i don't know if this was the intended way for a breakdown like this, but if anyone wanted to know anything about the flavor or my design choices, feel free to ask in the card's comments. I'll upload/adjust more entries as i make em.

    Entry #3: Spiteful Command


    Allrighty #3, i wanted to do something fun for this one, so i decided to make a one mana, hybrid, command card (i mean, what could go wrong). So let's look at these options.

    I ended up changing option #1 a lot, but I'm fairly satisfied with this ability, being both disruptive and more fair, discarding and forcing discard is definitely a black thing, while the random discard effect affecting each player fits well with the more chaosy aspect of red as well.

    Then there is option 2, paying life for cards, definitely black, personally with having it 4 damage to you, i believe it fits quite well in red as well, a reckless disregard for safety to get advantage, which is something black and red have in common.

    Then there is option 3, this one feels like the most straightforward and this effect is found on both black and red cards.

    Option 4 is also a lot more straightforward compared to 1 and 2, it gets +1/-1, trading power for toughness just seems something that fits really well with both black and red, you're giving up something, to be more aggressive, so i think this fits. I also ended up having this give haste, a keyword found on both black and red cards.

    I'm honestly not sure how balanced this card is, it feels really hard to judge, but because of its versatility, in both being hybrid and its options, i could potentially see this seeing a lot of play in various formats.

    Still not sure if this was how these breakdowns were intended, but this is what it is. If anyone wanted to know anything about the flavor or my design choices, feel free to ask in the card's comments. I'll upload/adjust more entries as i make em.

  • Blue and black have the least mechanical overlap, so naturally I had to do some exploring.

    One unexplored overlap between blue and black is hand manipulation. Both blue and black are concerned about amassing knowledge to attain control, which is represented in drawing cards. Black is also not afraid to attack the minds of their opponents, which is represented in discard spells. An ability that cares about having more cards in hand than your opponents merges these ideas together elegantly.

    I also argue that black should have more access to unblockability. With black's focus on shadow and deception magic, I think it is reasonable for black mages to be able to slip past forces unnoticed. For Criminal Mastermind I developed Lurk, a "fixed" version of Intimidate and Fear variants that makes creatures only be able to be blocked by artifact creatures (who can't be tricked in the same way as the foolish fleshy-fleshes) and creatures with defender (who are more experienced with this stuff compared with the typically offensive foot soldier.)

    Feedback is especially encouraged! Hybrid mana is still really hard for me, and I'm still learning all the time.

    At Her Majestys Behest
  • edited October 2020
    So I changed the art for my earlier Senate’s Rebuke, but it’s still the same otherwise.
    Also I’m sorry it’s an instant-aura, but I’m too lazy to change it. Sorry.


  • I have others but I didn't want to put in a bunch of the same hybrid colors.
    Aylen Archmages Hope Shadow of Doubt Involuntary Transformation
  • 2nd entry (notes in comments)

  • edited September 2020
    3rd entry
  • edited September 2020
    Entry 1 (Old):

    White - Enchantments, white also dabbles a little into weaker reanimation, which this is.
    Black - Reanimation

    I costed this at 4 because some decks might find it more difficult to remove enchantments. I hope you like it!
  • Entry 2 (New):

    Both red and green have a connection through liking combat damage, so this was my shot at a hybrid card helping that! This was quite fun to make!
  • Entries No. 1 & 2

    I love the GU overlap in design - there are several cool things they can do together - and the Sidewinder is a nod to one of my favorite mechanics. U gets both conditional and unconditional draw and G gets draw primarily when it's tied to creatures, which I'd posit that evolve definitely requires.

    The Paladin is an older card (from a project last year) that explored multi-hybrid costs. This was the cleanest of the cycle that I attempted to create and I really liked how it game together, even though I can't imagine it'd see print outside of a very particular set. In the spirit of the challenge, W provides either keyword, G only provides vigilance, and B only provides lifelink. Together, you have four color combos that could yield the outcome of both keywords, though some pairings are more clearly representative than others. Anyway, very fun to design.
  • edited September 2020
This discussion has been closed.