USP-02: February’s Custom Cards

Few things can create stupid decisions like romance. Across the Palace boats, there are so many conflicting relationships, whether they be romantic or pragmatic or both, and the tempestuous manner in which these relationships are set up, secretly or publically. Of course, there may be some reason why the vampires of these Palaces, eternal and timeless, seem so enraptured by an immediate need to court – but perhaps it’s just the fashion for the time?

The logo for the Usurper's Palace, showing the title text overlaid on a six-pointed spiral vortext.

Warning: Wizards employees, this post contains unsolicited designs of custom magic cards.

The theme this month was Love. The most central way to do this then is have cards that do things for your opponents, mostly. There’s a lot of romantic story tropes, pining and flirting here, with cards that want to make it so planeswalkers want to keep them around, as if someone’s made it very fashionable to have a planeswalker like you.

This gives us a lot of room to introduce people! We see a lot of characters talking about their own relationships to love (and relationships). Let’s talk about who shows up, and what these cards tell us about the world.

We see two legendary characters introduced here, and a third mentioned. The mentioned name is Batuhan, who we’ll see later on.

Instead, we’ll start out talking about Ullaine, the Reckless Love. Ullaine is a planeswalker, and from the outset, a lot of the other planeswalkers who wind up in Achresis think that she’s fundamentally to blame for… well, something. Her home plane isn’t explicitly well known, but it’s not like she’s going out of her way to help people out with that knowledge.

What Ullaine is known for, and the first kind of ‘mystery’ she introduces is that thanks to her, there’s a lot of people on the Palace boats who know what planeswalkers are and are doing their best to woo them. Of course, Ullaine is definitely one of the planeswalkers people are trying to woo, but she’s also flighty and prone to leaving and returning. In fact, that’s something that a lot of planeswalkers notice: Attempts to planeswalk away from Achresis are temporary, and people keep coming back.

People, largely, blame Ullaine for this, because she’s the most flagrantly well-known planeswalker on the plane.

Then there’s Abhil. Abhil is a Masqued, one of the Vampires’ spy network. Starting out as vampires, the Masqued perform some kind of strange ritual that somehow involves dissolving their old identity; they give up something, and become the Masqued, who various princes and kings of the Crown Blood take advantage of to form an elaborate spy network. And of course, if your most important skill is your ability to manipulate and fool people, it’s very easy to get into weirdo who has weird obsessions.

Like Abhil.

Abhil is a a firm believer in Ullaine’s idea of reckless love. Abhil think that people betraying their previous alliances for reasons of money or pride are bothing, but abandoning one post, to run off to live on another palace boat, in the name of love, why that, that is a great story.

Abhil is also very good at this, and fantastically irritating to most.

A thing that was in this set for some time, because of how I could use it to represent promises and love was totem armour. Totem Armour is a cool mechanic from the original Rise of the Eldrazi set

Totem armor (If enchanted permanent would be destroyed, instead remove all damage marked on it and destroy this Aura.)

I cut Totem Armour because it interacted with manifest in ways I don’t like; oh, sure there was the space concern, just like with manifest. But also, totem armour demands a fairly large number of auras. Auras can do a lot! They can take the place of combat tricks and removal, after all!

Totem Armour was a reasonably easy thing to pass, though. Overall, only two cards wound up with the effect necessary to carry the flavour – Paramour’s Protection being one of them.

I didn’t really get to do enough with the Venetian art vibe I concepted originally with the set, so when I got to include a cute dude riding in a gondola, I was pretty attached to it and wanted to make sure I didn’t let this card leave the set.

The Usurper’s Palace (USP) is a collection of Custom Magic cards made with the general structure of a commander draft set. The cards are posted, one per day with different themes every month, to the Custom Magic subreddit, on my Mastodon and Cohost. Follow along for more!

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