Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Challenge #6: Delayed

Due to travel and family obligations, the winners and critiques for challenge #6 will be delayed a few days.  I'm sorry to make people wait.  In the meantime, please relax with

M13 Intro Deck

Jay Kirkman is building an Intro Deck with fan feedback over on Ertai's Lament. It's a fun project and seems to be getting a lot of attention. Check it out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

M13 Designer Diary I

With our M13 completed and Wizards' version being spoiled, I'd like to go over the cards, cycles and mechanics of the set but not just to share funny stories and point out quirks and parallels, but to focus on the lessons we learned working on the set together. I guarantee I won't cover them all, because they were literally innumerable, but hopefully what I do cover will help convey what an amazing exercise this has been.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To Alaska and Back Again 2

I left my trip report off before we hit Juneau. I skipped a few neat things like Patrick's highly interactive deck-building presentation, buying manly dudes girly drinks, playing Assault on Khyber Station (which I promise to write about soon), and claiming Shawn Main as my two-headed giant partner for later in the week. I wanted to mention that before proceeding because we ended up hanging out together more throughout the week as you'll soon see. Shawn is pretty awesome and I look forward to the day I can work with him and other fun wizards.

Sunday, the 3rd — Juneau
Juneau was supposed to be chilly (in the 50s) but we got lucky with the weather and it was basically 70 and sunny all day. Our jackets quickly became liabilities, but I'd much prefer to carry a vestigial coat than need to wear it. Shawn joined us and Brenda was eager to try out the Mount Roberts Tramway so we shelled out the unfortunate ticket price and ascended what I can only assume was Mount Roberts.

Challenge #6: Enter the Dragon

Happy Wednesday, designers!  Before I give you the next challenge, I want to talk a bit about the feedback system.  Under the current system, only the top few entries get any comments.  That's not very helpful to the many people who didn't submit a winning entry.  Some of them are experienced designers wondering what I didn't like about their card.  Others are relatively new to design and need feedback to improve their skills.  In any case, these people also deserve to have their entries discussed.

To fix this problem, I'm trying out a new opt-in system for feedback.  For every challenge, I'll pick one non-winning entry for public discussion, and write a separate post describing what went right and wrong with it from a design perspective.  If you're willing to have your entry featured in this way, put the word "critique" in the subject line of your e-mail submission.  I'll try to pick a different person to critique every week, so that everyone who wants to can get a chance.

And now, the design challenge.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Design Challenge #5: Results

Wow!  This was our most popular design challenge yet, and I can see why.  Those clunky old legends are just too endearing to let them sit in their present state.  I received a lot of excellent submissions, and many people admitted that they couldn't hold themselves to designing just one.

Sadly, there is no time to talk about all the clever ways you guys reimagined these creatures.  As usual, I'll only write about the top few.  (I have a new feedback system in mind for future challenges, thanks to suggestions from Jules, but you'll find out about that later.)

To Alaska and Back Again

It's nice to be back home from the longest and busiest vacation I've ever taken. I visited family, hiked the Alaskan tundra, ate way too much steak and dessert, played tons of Magic, interviewed at Wizards, debuted our M13 set and schmoozed with awesome people. I'm exhausted, but very pleased. It's hard to write Memento, so here are the highlights chronologically.

Wednesday, the 30th — Seattle and Renton
Having spent most of the night prior printing off the last of the 760 M13 cards needed for eight-man sealed and scrounging together a Modern deck, my wife Brenda and I got just a couple hours of sleep before our early flight. Apart from just barely making the plane thanks to PHL security, the flight was fine and we arrived with time to replace my imploded cell battery, explore a park with wild cotton, get lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and explore Renton before my interview at Wizards. I'd heard mixed reviews of the city and I can say I'm firmly in the love-it camp: The terrain is all hills, trees and water while every neighborhood is decorated by endless flowers, colorful moss or amazingly ubiquitous 20'+ azalea monsters. Freaking gorgeous.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Design Challenge #5: I am Legend

Legends was a groundbreaking set in many ways, but its most innovative and seminal achievement was the use of multicolor cards.  Gold cards were explored more thoroughly and successfully in later blocks, but Legends deserves the credit for starting things off.  It used multicolor entirely on legendary creatures, which was a fine decision.  These iconic creatures felt appropriately exciting, and left the door open for multicolor spells in the future.

However, most of these creatures have not aged well.

Design Challenge #4: Results

To be honest, this challenge was more difficult than I had intended.  Top-down designs are already very hard, and there are many themes in Tolkien's work (mythology, history, diplomacy, the corruptive influence of power, magic being rare and unique) which simply don't fit the game of Magic: the Gathering well.  Still, there were some admirable solutions to the difficult problem presented, and I commend everyone who tried.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sonnet #1: To Storm Crow

On charcoal wings it plummets from above:
An omen ill, claims Arna Kennerüd.
Yet in my heart, its sight brings only love.
For Storm Crow, other two-drops I eschewed.
Play Tarmogoyf?  What if my graveyard's light?
I had as lief throw down a Runeclaw Bear!
Tiago's Mage is flashy, but too slight-
That weakling dies to Gut Shot, Zap, or Flare.
No Confidant too Dark shall grace my board,
Since cards for life I'll not so dearly buy.
Though Stoneforge Mystic bring along her Sword,
I'll none of her, until she learns to fly!
No better card did e'er see print in blue
Than Storm Crow, that magnificent 1/2.

M13 Trajectories: The Finish Line

We have finished our fan M13 set on Tuesday, May 29. I've listed the set spoiler in the Great Designer Search 2 Wiki.

I think we ended up with a pretty interesting Limited environment. There are many viable draft archetypes, and you can choose to play a multicolor deck or an ordinary 2-color deck.

Jay Treat will be sharing this set in a self-organized prerelease tournament on the Magic Cruise. Most people on the cruise will probably be too busy partying or playing Magic to be reading this, but if you just so happen to be on the cruise, I hope you will try it out!

I'd like to talk about some final questions that arose in the last week of the set.