Friday, July 29, 2011

CCDD 072911—Umbramancer

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/29/2011 - Most shades are mindless entities. Fractured souls traveling blindly through eternal darkness. But if the set that yesterday's card goes in is going to establish them as even a minor tribe, there will need to be exceptions to prove the rule. Umbramancer was a wizard in life, studying the magic of darkness. He was consumed by his own research—literally—and has become a shade, yet because of his dark knowledge and the way he was transformed, he retains much of his mind and his arcane ability.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

CCDD 072811—Noble Revenant

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/28/2011 - One promising design well that remains substantially untapped is lords. I've made a few CCDD lords already and you can bet this won't be the last of them. What's brilliant about a creature lord is that if it's for a popular or well-supported tribe, Timmy's going to love it and if it's for a smaller tribe or a tribe that hasn't gotten much love recently, Johnny (or Vorthos) is going to love it. You're always going to have an audience.

Today's card is the lord of shades. It's also kind of a no-brainer once you've got the concept of shade lord in your head. I'd be amazed if I'm the first to design this guy. That said, he sure hasn't been printed... yet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CCDD 072711—Moment of Truth

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/27/2011 - I don't have much time to chat today, so I'll just post this idea and admit that it has the same problem as Diminish (that was solved by Turn to Frog). Potentially we could add "each creature loses all abilities" but then it starts to feel more green (like Pervasive Instinct and King Predator).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CCDD 072611—Mossy Reclaimer and Sphagnombler

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/26/2011 - Today's CCDD is the result of thinking about other ways to remove dangerous cards from opposing graveyards and about what a green Resurrection could look like. A search for green spells that exile cards from graveyards includes Scavenging Ooze, Night Soil, Night Soil's descendant Necrogenesis, and the similarly-themed Morbid Bloom. I'm sure there are other cards relevant to the discussion, since Gaea's Blessing is one of the best such answers.

Monday, July 25, 2011

CCDD 072511—Sol Orb

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/25/2011 - Sol Ring is broken. You don't need me to tell you that. Not only does it accelerate your mana for future turns twice as fast as your average Mind Stone, it does so on turn one and nets you a mana the turn you play it. While it's the former part that lends Sol Ring the bulk of its true power, I suspect it's the latter part that sets off the "this is SO good" alarm bells for even the most casual players.

A lot of players get a nice little thrill out of playing cards that feel broken (whether they really are or not). Solemn Simulacrum, Baneslayer Angel and even Lightning Bolt are but a few recent examples. I want to try to capture that same feeling of getting-away-with-something in a new iteration of the mana stone concept without actually producing a broken card. Here is my attempt:

Friday, July 22, 2011

CCDD 072211—Test of Loyalty

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/22/2011 - I was looking for a card that depicts a parent's protective nature. It's not uncommon to hear a new father proclaim that he would not hesitate to give his own life to protect his child, and likewise a mother. That's a noble sentiment, but it also raises the question of when that would come up. Certainly, it would take an irredeemably evil entity to make such a terrible demand. "Your life or your child's life!"

That scenario is so morbid I'm not sure it belongs on a Magic card as proposed, which is part of the reason Test of Loyalty's flavor has abstracted it to more of a team/cause-based thing. "Will you die so that your allies may live?" Still grim, but more palatable.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

CCDD 072111—Ruled by Lightning

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/21/2011 - Sparkify!

Aka, make your creature like a Spark Elemental.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Three Dreams (or Three Rares)

As the first installment of Subdivisions wasn't especially well-received, I'll save myself the effort and just leave it unresolved. And while I thought to at least discuss some of the designs that resulted from that task, I've just uploaded the majority of my set file to Alex Churchill's Multiverse, so who cares about some weeks old ramblings? Instead, let's talk about some random designs!

CCDD 072011—Aether Leak

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/19/2011 - Mana Leak is a simple, effective card. Why would anyone want to create more variations of something so perfect? Because variety is the spice of life. I love Mexican food, but if I had to eat it every day for a month straight, I'd be about ready for a culinary break. Naturally, I'm not the first to think about this: There are already ~47 uses of this same effect in Magic from Force Spike to Spell Syphon. Well, here's one more.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CCDD 071911—Claim Soul

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/19/2011 - I like Enslave. It shows black paying the price (in this case, just lots of mana) for an effect that it really wants: a powerful effect. It also adds its own twist to Mind Control by adding Soul Bleed to the mix. That card is flavorful as well: The black mage isn't just controlling your creature's mind, he has completely dominated it and is using your previous bond to punish you further. So evil.

Even so, control effects aren't black's usual M.O. You're much more likely to see a black mage destroy something than steal it. It's also standard fair to zombify things. You see where I'm going with this, right?

Monday, July 18, 2011

CCDD 071811—Pillar of Fire

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/18/2011 - Fireball is an amazing card. It's a finisher and a one-sided board sweeper. It's powerful, versatile, and flavorful. What's not to like? Just the complexity. Fireball has been retemplated many times in an effort to find the most sensible wording for it. Check out this version from the Beatdown box set. The newest wording is the best yet and it's still not great.

Even with all its quirks, Fireball has made the cut in the last three core sets because it's just that resonant. Every player transitioning from D&D and any derivative property (IE, all of them) will recognize it instantly. As for the complexity, it's necessary. Yes, complexity is necessary to make Fireball what it is, but I actually mean that complexity is necessary to the game of Magic. Let me explain.

This is a complex game, it has complex rules with exceptions layered on top of exceptions to exceptions. And it's popular. Not despite the complexity, but because of it. Most of us wouldn't be playing if the game weren't a challenge and none of us would be playing if every single card was plain vanilla. The challenge and intricacy of complexity adds interest. I know more than a few players who won't let "lethal" be their count for a Rite of Replication'd Precursor Golem. They want to know the exact number, to prove that they're smart enough to calculate it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

CCDD 071511—Devouring Hydra, others

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/15/2011 - I have three Hydra designs left and I'm going to share them all with you today rather than revisit them on some later date. Don't worry about being overwhelmed in awesome, they're fairly tame compared to the last few days. Naturally, I will be saving my favorite for last. First up:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

CCDD 071411—Polyneuma Hydra

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/14/2011 - While I was confident when I started Hydra week that there were aspects of the Hydra that hadn't been represented in card form yet, I must say I've been pleasantly surprised how many very cool such aspects there are left to mine. Today we cover the Hydra whose heads each breathe a different deadly substance. You know, fire, acid, lightning, frost, poison, etc. Oh, and you get to watch me stumble a lot before I find something really decent.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CCDD 071311—The Many-Eyed Serpent

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/13/2011 - Before you continue with today's CCDD, if you haven't seen the addition of Omniscient Hydra to yesterday's post, thanks to Nich Grayson, check it out real quick. It's pretty sweet.

The Many-Eyed Serpent is actually the least favorite of my Hydra designs this week (not that I hate it), but I share it with you today because it has a relevant new Hydra ability and because it's interesting to discuss the possible executions. First let's take a look at the original version:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CCDD 071211—Celestial Hydra & Omniscient Hydra

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/12/2011 - Most Hydra* don't get any smarter when you add another head. As it should be. But sometimes you've got to make an exception to prove the rule. How do we represent this in Magic? In this game, smarter equals more cards.

A Design Review of Magic 2012: Green (Part 1)

I will be continuing my review of Magic 2012,  looking at each card from a design perspective. With this episode, I'll just focus on the Green card draw spells.

Monday, July 11, 2011

CCDD 071111—Royal Hydra

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/11/2011 - In honor of 7-Eleven's birthday, I welcome you to Hydra Week (but you're going to have connect the dots yourself). Since Hydra are the recently elected iconic creature type for green, joining the Angels, Sphinxes (Sphinges?), Demons and Dragons of the world, we're going to be seeing a lot more of them in the future. Here are all the Hydras printed so far. Most have an X in their mana cost (Feral Hydra) and/or size-affecting counters on them (Phyrexian Hydra) and those that don't are either just straight up huge (Hydra Omnivore) or have a splitting effect (Sprouting Phytohydra). They are also almost all rare.

Today I bring you a very strong uncommon. In fact, the true reason for Hydra week is that I want to try a new design strategy I have a lot of trouble with: Designing Powerful Cards (of which, Ken Nagle is the patron saint). As as an amateur Magic designer, I'm so used to having to do my own development, that I tend to be very conservative with my numbers and effects. In R&D, that's not actually a useful trait because Development will be testing and tweaking all the numbers anyhow, so a designer might as well be optimistic and let his/her card tickle some Spike sensibilities.

Friday, July 8, 2011

CCDD 070811—Mox Amethyst

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/8/2011 - It is a time-honored tradition among Magic designers and developers to fix beloved, broken cards of old. The Moxen are right at the top of this list and have seen a few updates: Chrome Mox, Mox Opal, and Mox Diamond if we ignore Lotus hybrids and Un- cards. Those are all strong cards and solid updates. Today I present half a mox.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

CCDD 070711—Crystal Cocoon

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/7/2011 - Cocoon was never a strong card. In Magic 2010 and 2011, they rebuilt some poorly executed cards from ages past into newer, simpler, more resonant cards, Primal Cocoon being one of them. Except it's not quite as resonant since there's no enforced gestation period, and unlike some other re-imagined cards in the new core sets, Primal Cocoon still sucks to actually play.

Crystal Cocoon doesn't suck. It's also the first Magic cocoon that actually transforms a creature into a butterfly. Y'know, the thing that caterpillars use cocoons to become?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CCDD 070611—Displacer Beast

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/6/2011 - Translating existing fantasy tropes and monsters into your game is risky because if you don't nail it, the card will feel jarring to anyone familiar with the original, but it's usually worth that risk because when you do nail it, everyone will love it. Fuzzy feelings all around.

Well, I'm not so sure I nailed this one, so you'll have to settle for fuzzy feelers all around.

Announcing Mashup Contest Results!

The following contestants took part in this card design contest. Click on their names to view their submissions.

Jules Robins
Gilbert Hedegaard
Nicholas Grayson
Duncan Anderson
Ben Ketel
Ikeda Magnus
Berney Pellet

And the winners are:

Second Place:
» Click to Reveal «

First Place:
» Click to Reveal «

Congratulations to the winners!
And thanks for playing!

Mashup Contestant #06: DrJones

Mashup Contestant #05: Nicholas Grayson

Mashup Contestant #11: Ikeda Magnus

Mashup Contestant #10: zix200

Mashup Contestant #09: GeoCorporation

Mashup Contestant #07: Duncan Anderson

Mashup Contestant #08: Ben Ketel

Mashup Contestant #12: Berney Pellet

Mashup Contestant #03: Jules Robins

Mashup Contestant #04: Gilbert Hedegaard

Mashup Contestant #02: Luminum_Can

Mashup Contestant #01: the_humanity

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CCDD 070511—Undeterred Beast

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/5/2011 - Most players hate it when you Remove Soul their creature on the spot, but don't mind it so much if you Doom Blade it before they can use it. There's some important psychology there and I only understand a tiny portion of it.

Perhaps they have accepted that decks need removal, that your deck will have removal, and that your removal will kill a creature sooner or later. On the other hand, they have not accepted that decks need countermagic (since most don't), that your deck has countermagic (even if they've seen some already) and that your countermagic will counter one of their spells sooner or later.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Subdivisions (Part One)

With the intent to expand Red's mechanical repertoire, a desire sitting patiently at the front my mind as I toiled away at eighteen demoralizing Red commons, I decided to get meta (more meta than usual) and divide one of the many pies within the pie: the Time Pie. Of course, the Time Pie had yet to be referenced in any other piece of Magic design ephemera, so it was up to me to decide what that entailed.

CCDD 070411—Portents

Cool Card Design of the Day
7/4/2011 - A while back I wrote about a way to make Magic more fun by reducing the frequency of mana-screw and -flood. You can read more about it here, but the basic idea is that everyone gets to treat one draw step during each game as if they had the card Abundance. It did help a bit, and that's great, but for a proposed rule that is obviously patch and adds even more complexity to the world's most complex game, you would expect a massive improvement, which "Abundonce" clearly was not.

I've also written (though I have no idea where) that if you can improve a game by tweaking existing entities (cards, in this case) that follow the existing rules, rather than adding another rule or inventing new entities (like an emblem) than you absolutely should. So how about we just make an "Abundonce" mechanic and slap it on some cards.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Rise and Fall of a Card Type

The release of a new Jace, Chandra and Garruk in Magic 2012 has crystallized a trend in my mind relating to the introduction of new card types to the game.


When the first five planeswalkers are released in Lorwyn, they're all very strong cards. To use the limited pointing scale in a constructed context, they are all 4.0s. That is, if you build a deck of that color, you pretty much always stick all the planeswalkers you can into it. Liliana and Chandra don't get quite as much love, but that's more a matter of cost/archetypes not quite fitting.