Thursday, March 31, 2011

CCDD 033111—The Happening

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/31/2011 - This card was also inspired by thinking how the Mirran's could turn the Phyrexian's strengths against themselves, but it also stands on it's own very nicely, so it gets it's own day. The Happening is yet another shake at black mass removal. It seems like a pretty fair card. Slightly better against, say, creatures with infect.

Thursday Puzzle #3

Which card is missing from this set, and why?

Darkness, Early Harvest, Gaseous Form, Giant Strength, Moon Sprite

Current standings
Sam: 1
Toby or not Toby: 1

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CCDD 033011—Mirran Resistance

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/30/2011 - How might the Mirran Resistance, a tiny group of survivors on an extremely hostile plane continue to fight the good fight?They're going to have to turn the Phyrexians own tools against themselves. Vedalken Carrier lives to be infected. When he finally gives up the ghost, his infection will punish the very monsters that caused it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Magic Opportunities

In case anyone missed them, Wizards has two internships available for MtG and MtGO. They're looking for current students (in business/marketing and computer science, respectively) who are available to work 15 or 20 hours a week. The positions are unpaid, but still seem like pretty sweet gigs if you go to school in the Seattle area.

The Wizards career page is here (just follow the link for current careers and search for 'any').

CCDD 032911—Voice of Norn

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/29/2011 - Now that we "know" that Phyrexia won the Mirrodin war, we can start speculating about New Phyrexia. It's the third set of a standard three-set block which means that we know a number of things. It will be a small set and it will continue and/or offer variations of all of the major mechanics of the first two blocks. Obviously, there will be infect, but there will also be metalcraft. Living weapon will return, but so will battle cry. There are two ways this is possible. One is that Phyrexian cards will adopt Mirran mechanics as shown in today's CCDD, Voice of Norn.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Runaway Train of Thought

This post is based around a string of cards I scribbled down while I was doodling before work - it's a kind of stream of consciousness to describe how I think about cards. The cards themselves took about five minutes - the explaining has taken a few hours. Follow me through some epic reasoning worthy of the old Adam West Batman.

CCDD 032811—Sated Vampire

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/28/2011 - Sated Vampire uses a devour-like mechanic but makes the sacrifice a required cost. How does that affect the balance of the card? On turn two, the best you can have is a 2/2 lifelink flyer, which seems pretty fair. I think you'll mostly want to play her later and sacrifice something that wants to be sacrificed or is no longer relevant because of a Pacifism or such.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

CCDD 032711—Ravenous Companion

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/27/2011 - I like the idea of a vampiric ally who will fight for you, but requires regular blood donations from you. Ravenous Companion isn't a huge leap from Vampire Lacerator, just trading early power for eventual power, but it actually reminds me more of the family of Oozes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CCDD 032611—Tar Pit

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/26/2011 - This is the kind of card that makes a lot of sense thematically, but very little otherwise. Why should black get a conditionally very strong defensive card like this? Is it fair that it enables Swampwalk and can't deal with it? How weird is it that it affects flying creatures? Ultimately, you wouldn't expect to see a card like this get printed today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

CCDD 032511—Sylvok Deathstaff

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/25/2011 - I forget what got me thinking about a polar opposite to Sylvok Lifestaff. Maybe it was the cycle of swords. Maybe it was Doug Beyer being contagiously enthusiastic about elves. Or possibly I was compleating fun Mirran cards, in the style of Blightsteel Colossus. Regardless, I am pleasantly surprised with how Sylvok Deathstaff turned out.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CCDD 032411—Simic Institute

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/24/2011 - There's a lot to be said for a card that does one thing well. When you find a combo for it, you feel clever. Similarly, there is a real danger to hot-glue-gun design: If the two pieces don't make sense mechanically and thematically both individually and together, than the resulting design just feels silly. That said, when you can create a card that effectively combos with itself and doesn't cross that line, you will have yourself something special.

Thursday Puzzle #2

What is the next card in this sequence, and why?

Scorching Spear, Flame Jab, Shock, Flame Jet, Magma Rift, Mindblaze, _________

Leave your answer in the comments.  The first correct response gets a point!

Last week's puzzle has not yet been solved.  It's a hard one, but I think it's solvable. 

Update: Toby or not Toby has solved last week!  And Sam gets the point for this week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CCDD 032311—Lady of the Forked Tongue

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/23/2011 - Who doesn't like a crazy snake lady? Apart from men, women and snakes, I mean. This is no Deranged Hermit or Thelonite Hermit, but on the other hand, it is a crazy snake lady.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Designing Staples: Duress

Duress was part of a partial cycle from Urza's block that also included Encroach and Ostracize, and since then it's been remade in a variety of iterations that have shown up in competitive play ever since. I had originally planned for this to be a quick post about some constructed staples, using Duress as an example, but I discovered while I was writing that there was a lot more to say than I thought...

CCDD 032211—Lightning Dragon

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/21/2011 - This is clearly a Lightning Dragon (or Storm Dragon). I originally gave it a lightning-bolt-on-attack trigger but, yeah, that's sort of been done. What other lightning effects can we reference? Chain Lightning? Close... but terrible. How about this?

Monday, March 21, 2011

CCDD 032111—Mother Bear

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/21/2011 - Cards like Lead the Stampede reward you for playing more creatures in your deck than you might otherwise, but they also limit the number you can play because they are, themselves, non-creatures. Mother Bear is an exploration of removing that liability.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

CCDD 032011—Perilous Coin Flips

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/20/2011 - A lot of players don't like coin flip cards. Being a fan of risk-reward calculation, I am a fan. But what if we could find a middle ground. I propose a set of cards that allow a player to take a slightly below-average effect for sure or to flip a coin at a chance for an above-average effect... or nothing at all.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

CCDD 031911—Anesthetize

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/19/2011 - Some ideas take longer than others. I found this art and knew it needed to go on a black spell named Anesthetize about a month ago. The text I put around it was very 'eh,' (it was a Pillory of the Sleepless that gained you life instead of losing your opponent life), which is why you haven't seen it until now. I came back to it today and tried a few new angles of attack until I found one that's actually interesting.

Friday, March 18, 2011

CCDD 031811—The Brothers Grim

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/18/2011 - Double strike can be a no-brainer for a legend that represents a pair of creatures that fight as a team. Looking to the black side I was drawn to a semi-vampiric ability that would interact in a cool way with the double strike. From there I had to decide whether The Brothers Grim would only grow when they damaged a creature, a player or both and how to deal with potential confusion issues.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CCDD 031711—Sylvan Leprechaun

Cool Card Design of the Day
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Here's a leprechaun. You don't see a lot of these guys in Magic and I'm pretty sure that's because they're not terribly distinct from gnomes (of the traditional variety), ouphes and brownies. That, and they tend to be more of the shenanigans variety than the heavy-combat variety.

Thursday Puzzle #1

Which member of this cycle doesn't quite fit, and why?

Reverse Damage, Ray of Command, Dark Banishing, Stone Rain, Fog

Leave your answer in the comments.  The first correct response gets a point!

Clarification: The five cards genuinely do form a cycle.  That is, if one were omitted, one could deduce its identity from the other four.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CCDD 031611—Scarred Survivor

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/16/2011 - Scarred Survivor was originally a 1/1 for 1 but it seemed too similar to (and largely worse than) Mortician Beetle. I tried making it 2cc but at 1/1 it felt too weak and at 2/1 it felt a bit strong. That's when I realized I could make it relevant that it's ability isn't triggered and require the player to play it in response to a death or two. Bigger hoop, bigger prize. Everyone wins.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CCDD 031511—Benalish Throwback

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/15/2011 - Benalish Throwback is inspired directly from the conversation around HavelockV's Reinventing Alpha series. A few of us were waxing optimistic about some magical fix to banding that could allow it to return in some clean, easily grokkable form. Jeff Peterson suggested breaking it up into different abilities. At first I was skeptical, but as long as those abilities can stand on their own as well, it's a decent option.

Reinventing Alpha, Part 3: Putting the Band back Together

After traveling to the past and inadvertently running over Richard Garfield with a DeLorean, our protagonist is on a quest to rebuild Alpha.  Last time, he got rid of maximum hand size and the upkeep step.  What could be next?  Past columns: 1 2.

Today, we're going to talk about creature abilities.  The current list of evergreen creature abilities is:

Monday, March 14, 2011

CCDD 031411—Backstab

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/14/2011 - When I designed the Threaten variant, Manifest Betrayal, I had to think of other ways temporary stealing effects could work and that led me to Backstab. What if you got your opponent's creature to betray his own team in a sneakier way? What if you could cast your Threaten variant at instant speed, after blockers were already declared?

CCDD 031311—Tiger Blood

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/13/2011 - On Saturday, Aaron Forsythe made a joking call for top-down tiger blood designs. Pretty sure my response tweet never made it back to him, but I thought the design was interesting enough to share, so here it is.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Delivering Demons

One thing that's always bothered me about Magic is the imbalance in the iconic creatures in each colors. You know the ones I mean; the big bomb creatures that make you excited to open a pack. White gets angels, red gets dragons, blue gets relative newcomer sphinxes, green gets (...profit?) and black gets demons. Now, I sympathize with green's lack of an iconic creature type (they're probably worth a future post), but as you might notice from my avatar, I have a soft spot for the bad guys. In real life, I'm generally a good guy, but I try to indulge my evil side once I get a chance to play. So it could be that I'm biased on this, but I'm pretty sure demons are getting shafted in Magic.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

CCDD 031211—Assault Goblin

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/12/2011 - Everyone loves 1/1 flying goblins, how about an upgrade? While still weak, Assault Goblin is a bit above the curve we've seen for common flying in red before. That might make it uncommon, but I think with the modern creature standard, this could make the cut.

Friday, March 11, 2011

CCDD 031111—Mushroom and a Contest

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/11/2011 - Today I'm announcing a new twist on CCDD. Today (and hopefully every friday) I will feature a design that is not my own. Why? I can't be the only one that's getting a little tired of my voice. Seriously though, a big part of being a designer is the ability to understand other people's designs; to find flaws and improve upon them; but more importantly, to discover the seeds of brilliance in them. More on this after the card.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CCDD 031011—Student of the Elements

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/10/2011 - Student of the Elements is another art-inspired design (sadly, from before I started noting where the art was from). It felt distinctly red and blue and so I started looking for an unexplored overlap between those two colors. As looting has only recently been proposed as a red mechanic, there is a lot of virgin territory opened up there that I would like to explore.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

CCDD 030911—The Manifest Mechanic

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/09/2011 - I originally posted this on the Wizards Wiki in January but Living Weapon Week on got me thinking about it again so I rewrote it and re-posted it here. All of the cards have been refined and new ones added.

When the living weapon mechanic was revealed, it inspired me to think more about incarnate and its variations. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the first couple weeks of #GDS2. In short, incarnate is the aura mechanic that allows you to generate a creature to enchant when you otherwise couldn't). The choice of 0/0 germ tokens for living weapon seems to support Jonathan Woodward's execution. It's unique and makes it trivial to determine the power and toughness of the resulting creature but I still feel that there is room for another solution. Add to that the fact that 0/0 is now something that has already been done in this realm and we are more or less compelled to find that alternate solution.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CCDD 030811—Piscomancer

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/08/2011 - Everyone who hates tribal lords, raise your hand. No one? Yeah, that's what I thought. I saw this art (and actually attributed it) and I knew I had to make a a fish lord. This was my second stab at it.

Reinventing Alpha, Part 2: Y'all Know the Rules

After traveling to the past and inadvertently running over Richard Garfield with a DeLorean, our protagonist is on a quest to rebuild Alpha.  Last time, he replaced the Instant type with the Quick supertype.  What will he "fix" today?

The rules of Magic: the Gathering are a remarkable accomplishment.  On the one hand, they were so well crafted upon inception that they have undergone little cosmetic change since 1993.  If you sat down a person who hadn't played since Alpha and showed them a game today, they would notice very few changes in the rules.

Monday, March 7, 2011

CCDD 030711—Challenge

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/07/2011 - I design hybrid cards a lot. It's not because I have a disproportionate love of the hybrid mechanic—which I do—but rather, it's designer shorthand for "this card could go in either of those colors as the set needs." Challenge is a perfect example of this technique. I'm not actually proposing this card be printed as a red-white hybrid card (though it could be) only that it can be printed as a red card or a white card with pretty much equal validity.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

CCDD 030611—Armor Angel

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/06/2011 - Armor Angel isn't Beluga Caviar. It's not Lemon-Crusted Lobster nor Peking Duck. Armor Angel is a burger and fries. There's nothing unusual or fancy about it. It's neither terribly healthy nor decadent. It's just a tasty meal that you don't have to think about. Sometimes, that's all a body needs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

CCDD 030511—Potion of Love and Pain

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/05/2011 - I love me a Sun Droplet. Problem is, there's only ever been two, and that's being generous.

Potion of Love and Pain follows my recent rash of art-inspired cards by offering a new twist on artifacts that make it harder for your opponent to kill you. I decided to give this one a darker bent by making it all good up to a sizeable but very real threshold and then making it explode in your face. Kind of lich-esque, in a way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

CCDD 030411—Paradise Maiden

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/04/2011 - Paradise Maiden is the love-child of Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise that I would argue is more or less inevitable. That's not what prompted her creation though: This is another card inspired by art. Here's the twist though, it wasn't really a top-down design.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CCDD 030311 — Discorporate

Cool Card Design of the Day

3/03/2011 - I'm not going to sugar-coat it, Discorporate is neither innovative nor terribly exciting. It could easily, however, be a staple removal spell in limited. It came about when I stumbled upon some neat art while prettying up another submission and decided to do some top-down design. I'll talk more about top-down design and specifically art-based design another day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CCDD 030211 — Predictable Bear & Bimalicent Demon

Cool Card Design of the Day
Every day, I design a new card and discuss it briefly. Sometimes I will examine new possibilities for colors or mechanics, sometimes I'll re-examine existing executions and sometimes I'll just design something I think is neat.

3/02/2011 - A twitter conversation yesterday between Monty Ashley and Matt Tabak (who are both great follows for you Twitterers) began with an explanation of why you can run unlimited Relentless Rats in Commander (because the Rats ability overrides the deck-building limitation and not the other way around). That led Monty to propose the wacky ability, "For deckbuilding purposes, this card counts as two cards." I pointed out that Mishra's Bauble is basically already that card, but there are functional differences which led to the question, "If a card said, 'this counts as X cards' how big would X have to be?" The answer is two.*

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Card-Knapping: The 15 Most Influential Designs in Magic

We tend to read a lot about a set's design during preview weeks on Sometimes we get a bit of perspective during Head Designer Mark Rosewater's annual "State of Design" articles. What we rarely get to see is a sense of historical perspective applied to sets from years gone by. I'd like to examine some of the sets that were most influential, either through their successes or their failures, throughout Magic's history.

I cheerfully admit that my criteria for inclusion are completely subjective. What I consider to be important developments will no doubt differ from everyone else. This is just a general overview; I will likely write more in-depth articles on specific sets at some point in the future.

1. Magic: The Gathering (Limited Edition)

Obviously this list can only begin here. Richard Garfield and his many collaborators designed a game to appeal to the Dungeons & Dragons crowd which turned out to be as addictive as heroin and as expansible as a Lego set. Limited Edition featured a strong fantasy flavor and wildly divergent power levels between cards. By giving the cards specific rather than generic names ("Serra Angel" instead of "Angel," "Rock Hydra" instead of "Hydra") the designers allowed plenty of room for new cards to be created within similar conceptual spaces.

2. Arabian Nights

While Arabian Nights contained mechanical innovations that were echoed in future sets, the most important innovation was backward compatibility. Arabian Nights came very close to being printed with a different card-back than Limited Edition and Unlimited Edition cards. I don't think that Magic would be in print today if that had happened. Or at the very least the game would be far different from what we know today.

CCDD 030111 — Jared, Adept

Cool Card Design of the Day
Every day, I design a new card and discuss it briefly. Sometimes I will examine new possibilities for colors or mechanics, sometimes I'll re-examine existing executions and sometimes I'll just design something I think is neat.