Monday, May 28, 2012

Design Challenge #4: You Shoulda Put a Ring on it

Happy Memorial Day, designers!  This week, we're switching things up from our previous challenges.  Instead of designing feasible cards for past or future expansions, your task this week is something that would never see print: a top-down design from another fantasy IP.

Design Challenge #3: Results

Have you ever actually listened to the lyrics of that song?  They're appalling.

Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you go on
Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on

I have no words to describe the inadequacies of this poetry.

What's that?  A design challenge?  Oh, right.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

M13 Trajectories: The Final Push

Here's a status report for those interested in our fan M13 project.

We've settled on Bond (the Kird Ape mechanic of getting a bonus if you control a land type) as our returning mechanic, and finalized the abilities for Bond we've been discussing as follows:

Forest bond: +1/+2 if you control a Forest.
Plains bond: Gains vigilance if you control a Plains.
Island bond: Gains flying if you control an Island.
Swamp bond: Gains intimidate if you control a Swamp.
Mountain bond: Gains haste if you control a Mountain.

Learning Duel Masters (4) - Evolution

[ Part 1 ][ Part 2 ][ Part 3 ]

Evolution is the next big Duel Masters mechanic I'd like to discuss. It wasn't printed until the second set but we know that was intentional because it's mentioned in the rules released with the original set. It adds depth to the game, but it also adds complexity, so saving it until players were accustomed to the core game was pretty wise.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Learning Duel Masters (3) - Combat and Mana

[ Part 1 ][ Part 2 ]

I couldn't decide whether to go in depth into combat or the mana system next so I'm doing them together. That actually works quite well since both will require in-game examples to properly discuss.

Suppose you're running a Nature/Water deck, won the flip and decided to go first. This is your opening hand…

CCDD 052412—Fog of War

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/24/2012 -This one was top-down. I was thinking about the fog of war mechanic from RTS games while working on a StarCraft deck-building game and for whatever reason, this card occurred to me as an elegant, fairly resonant execution that could make exciting, if not interesting, gameplay.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Defense of Doom Blade

It is no secret that some of us here at Goblin Artisans dislike Doom Blade.  I am writing to defend this unfairly maligned card.  Doom Blade is an exemplar of a strong, simple common: powerful, but balanced.

First, some historical background.  If you're an Old Fogey, you probably think of the canonical 1B removal spell as Terror.  Terror was printed in every core set until Seventh Edition, where it was replaced by Dark Banishing.  But in Tenth Edition, Terror returned, only to be replaced by the simpler Doom Blade in Magic 2010.

CCDD 052312—Wildcursed Vagrant & Runt of the Litter

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/23/2012 - I was thinking recently that it would be unfair to their fans to make awesome werewolves for two sets and then never again. It doesn't sound like they'll make werewolves the next time they use double-faced cards since they'll be using the DFCs in an entirely different way. How terrible would it be to never see another werewolf? Too terrible! It's impossible. That means there will be more werewolves and they won't be DFCs. So what will they be? Here's one guess:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CCDD 052212—Bustling Waypoint

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/22/2012 - There's a tension between supporting multicolor decks and keeping basic lands important. Cards like Glacial Fortress and Verdant Catacombs demonstrate (very successful) attempts to create lands to support multicolor decks but that promote playing a combination of basic lands as well. Bustling Waypoint may not compare well to Reflecting Pool, but it's not hard to argue that the Pool was a mistake, particularly reprinting with both the Vivid Crag cycle and the Graven Cairns cycle. That said, it's not strictly worse...

Monday, May 21, 2012

CCDD 052112—Family Fuel

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/21/2012 -Designers are always looking for new variations on burn, particularly the 1R slot where Incinerate has grown tiresome but we clearly need something. Family Fuel (forgive the tasteless playtest name / pun) isn't doing something new, not remotely, but it actually is new to burn and I think it fills a reasonable role for a common.

Challenge #3: Farewell, Celine Dion

With Magic 2013 coming out in July, we'll finally say goodbye to the cycle of Titans.  Love 'em or hate 'em, these fearsome five have been a force to be reckoned with.  But now that they're leaving, what's going to drive sales of M13?  That's where you come in!

Design Challenge #2: Results

This challenge was a doozy.  ("What exactly is a doozy, HV? Also, are you aware that the 1950's ended a while ago?")  Rearranging the color pie is extremely difficult to do well, because the whole thing is already an intricate feat of checks and balances.  Of course, Goblin Artisans readers are a clever bunch.

The challenge was:
Mark Rosewater has stated that red's slice of the color pie is too narrow.  For this challenge, you must come up with an idea or mechanic to add to red.  You may move something from another color or create something entirely new.  This mechanic should be sufficiently flexible that it can appear in every large set.  
For this challenge, submit an essay of 50-150 words explaining your idea and a core set common or uncommon card demonstrating its use.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Creating the Test Skeleton (2)

This is a continuation of this article. This one is about how I rearranged the White cards in an exploratory test version of our fan M13 set.

Learning Duel Masters (2)

I've spent some time learning, reading about and playing Duel Masters and I'm pleased to say that my optimism has been satisfied instead of my skepticism: it really is a great game. I'm not suggesting all you Magic players switch over, because it's a considerably different game and will not likely fill the same needs for you that Magic does, but make no mistake, Duel Masters is very very good. Whether you choose to try it out or not, there are a lot of parallels between DM and Magic and the differences in their execution can inform Magic Design quite a bit.

(Here's part one, if you need the very basic introduction to DM).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Creating the Test Skeleton

Last week, I created a set file for testing some changes in the Bond mechanic. I would like to describe what considerations I made at each step so that it may provide ideas to other people who develop a set they've made with friends. I also hope these ideas will also help the M13 team when we collectively try to settle on the shape of the skeleton.

CCDD 051812—Inverted Bolt

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/18/2012 - As I was reading Zac Hill's article today, it occurred to me that Brimstone Volley reduced the cost of five damage from 5 mana (from say, Beacon of Destruction) to 3 and that Thunderous Wrath reduces it 1. My mind compulsively completes patterns, so naturally I wondered about a card that reduces it to -1.

I failed to design such a card, exactly, but this is interesting too:

A Cycle of Doubling Spells

Our virtual M13 set features the Kird Ape ability where you get a bonus if you control a particular land. One thing that would be nice to have is at least a few higher rarity cards that look splashy.

The following is an idea for a cycle of spells that give you double the effect if you control a land type.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Removal and Titans

I wanted to expand upon the reasons I suspect removal should be worse than it has been (apart from when Brian Tinsman is lead-designing the set). This is a follow-up to How Expensive Should Removal Be? and The Magic Ecosystem.

Creatures are inherently powerful because they stick around, can keep you from losing and can win you the game. There's no doubt in my mind that's why Dr. Garfield and the Penn playtesters made them as weak as they were in early Magic, relative to spells. A couple of decades later, we now know that creatures were too weak and spells were too strong. We know this because, as fun as spells and spell-combos can be, the heart of Magic is summoning fantastical creatures to do battle for you. Yet the early years of the game were dominated by spells because the creatures of the time just couldn't compare.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

M13 Trajectories: Bond Questions in Progress

In Goblin Artisan's virtual M13 set, we have been using a keyworded version of the Kird Ape ability as the returning mechanic, calling it Bond. As we gained more feedback from people who looked over the set file for us, it seems that for some people the mechanic just isn't doing much. This is how we've been attempting to adapt the set.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Design Challenge #2: Too Damn Small

What up, designers?  H 2 tha V here with another challenge for you.  (Yes, I learned my judge skills from America's Best Dance Crew.  Don't hate.)  

When I read the entries for the first Design Challenge, I was impressed by the resourcefulness and creativity of our readers. This next challenge is rather unconventional, and will test those abilities.  I hope you enjoy it!

Design Challenge #1: Results

First of all, many thanks to everyone who participated in this design challenge!  I hadn't expected so many responses, and I enjoyed reading all your submissions.  There was a great deal of skill and creativity in every one of them, and choosing the top three was difficult.  

The challenge was:
Submit three cards with the following constraints:
  • Your three cards must be "accidentally deleted from the design file" for Innistrad, Scars of Mirrodin, and Zendikar. 
  • No two of your cards may share a color or type.
  • Your cards must include one common, one uncommon, and one rare or mythic rare.
The judging will be based on the normal criteria (fun, elegance, flavor, comprehensibility, color/rarity appropriateness) and on how naturally each card fits into the set.  The perfect card should make the reader think, "Yeah, why didn't they print that?"

Friday, May 11, 2012

Off-Color Landfall

Jay Treat has proposed looking into off-color landfall as a replacement for the uncommon landfall creatures we've been using in our fan M13 set. Off-color landfall is a great idea with a lot of potential, so I would like to provide some analysis and ideas for what off-color landfall could be.

CCDD 051112—Doom Blow

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/11/2012 - As a combat trick, Doom Blow looks unusually strong. The combination of first strike and deathtouch has only appeared on three cards—Glissa, the Traitor, Nirkana Cutthroat & Pestilent Kathari—all either multicolor or requiring additional mana to turn the dial up to 11. Black isn't exactly known for combat tricks. Sure, instant-speed -1/-1 effects are sometimes used to change combat math, but there are few black tricks you want to cast on your own guy; Deadly Allure, Tainted Strike & Virulent Swipe comprise nearly the entire list in Modern.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

CCDD 051012—Battle Ogre

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/10/2012 - Here's a Battle Ogre. It's a common version of Valakut Fireboar. And, uh, so how's your mom doing? Good? Good.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

CCDD 050912—Skeleton Crew

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/9/2012 - I found this in the file from back when I was exploring a new version of regeneration and cleaned it up a bit. It's a neat example of two colors working together for a flavorful effect. In this case, Black has the ability to return creatures from the graveyard, but the nautical theme of the card requires a tide of Islands to maximize the ability.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

CCDD 050812—Uru Hibernian and Shambler

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/8/2012 - I don't know why I designed a couple bear-person cards in August of last year, but I suspect I just found some neat art and was inspired to make some cards. First up is our bear warrior, Uru Hibernian.

Monday, May 7, 2012

CCDD 050712—Demon's Embrace

Cool Card Design of the Day
5/7/2012 - There are other things I need to write more than CCDDs, but I was scanning my folder of existing designs looking to see if I couldn't find three ready-made entires for HavelockV's design contest and saw too many neat things not to share one of them. Simple variations on classic themes like this are usable in a core set, but generally much better saved for an expert set where it's most important to find variations for all the required staples.

M13 Trajectories: Heat-Shimmer Djinn

Welcome to M13 Trajectories, where I discuss how cards from our fan M13 set changed over the course of design through the involvement of multiple people. Today's card started out as the card Heat Shimmer. The card was submitted as a reprint for our Red "copying" spell slot.

Seeing this spell, I felt that while it was a "copying" spell in a hyper-literal sense, it didn't show how Red, like Blue, occasionally gets to mess with instants and sorceries. Red's ability to Fork spells is something that deserves to be reflected in a core set.

Design Challenge #1: Data Recovery

Let's face it: we're all waiting for the third Great Designer Search.  Given that four years passed between the first and second, we may be waiting for a long time.

But in the meantime, why let our competitive skills languish?  Let's throw down in some design challenges!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Playing Sudoku with the Set Skeleton

Developing the skeleton of a set is like solving a puzzle in many ways; figuring out what it takes to get the game to play the way you want is a daunting task, with many objectives you need to satisfy, and some aspects of it are like solving a Sudoku puzzle.

Here are two of the constraints and guidelines that the common cards of most modern Magic sets abide by:
  • Core sets have 2 vanilla common creatures in each color. 
  • Almost every card should conceivably play a role in some kind of strategy.
On their own, they seem inconsequential, but taken together they are actually very constraining. Most colors asides from Green don't have a variety of sizes to choose from. For example, Red and Black can usually only get a 2/1 or 3/2 for vanilla slots of casting cost 3 or less.

Friday, May 4, 2012

M13 Trajectories: Cursed Captain

Welcome to M13 Trajectories, where I discuss cards from our virtual M13 set and how they changed through comments from multiple people.

Today, I'd like to talk about a Tribal lord that helps two tribes. Ever since the Great Designer Search 2, I have been thinking a lot about this topic.

There have been a few tribal lords that help two or more tribes, such as Death Baron and Lovisa Coldeyes. However, while these may have been flavor hits, they weren't very successful at producing decks with a mix of different tribes.