Friday, March 29, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 032913—Maze Champion

Weekend Art Challenge
Click through to see this weekend's art and the design requirements for your card submission, due Monday morning. Remember that you may ask for feedback by mid-day Sunday and redesign your submission once after you get it.

Set Design: Open Thread

Readers, it's been a long and interesting journey from our eight original pitches to the final three. Our discussions have been productive and illuminating, and I have no doubt that any of Ankh-Theb, Ekkremes, or Frontier would be a fruitful design project. Nonetheless, the time has come to choose which set we're going to design. The Goblin Artisans authors will soon make a decision.

This thread is for feedback on that decision. Which set do you think has made the most progress during pre-design? What obstacles do you see ahead? Where is the best potential? What themes or mechanics are most exciting? Which questions are still unanswered?

This seems like as good a time as any to articulate our mission statement: we are trying to design a large standalone set using the standards of Magic R&D. Thus, we'll work within the framework of New World Order, the color pie, player psychographics, etc. Please keep these issues in mind while commenting on the viability of our options.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mo' Forests, Mo' Problems

This article is a long answer to the short question:
“What upsets you about Sylvan Primordial?”

CCDD 032813—Universal Twine

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/28/2013 - Dear Johnny, I know how you like wacky effects like Mind Bend, Artificial Evolution or overload that change the text of spells and let you do things no one ever intended or expected. Universal Twine does let you change how an entire class of cards works, but it really just makes them do more, rather than different.

I understand if you're mad that this card is for other people. But don't be mad at Spike or Melvin; they didn't even know you and I were together. Instead, be mad at me. I'm the one to blame. Even so, I do hope you'll be able to forgive me one day, because I still care about you. I always will.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

CCDD 032713—Mecha

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/27/2013 - Today is more about trying to visually demonstrate a really crazy idea we were discussing for Ekkremes than focusing on a particular card design. The very brief version is: What if there were dual-faced artifacts and the reverse sides combine in pairs to form a new card…and the reverse is a split so that you can combine those two cards in multiple ways?

I know that makes no sense to read, and that's why I've mocked up the back side of two such cards.

Set Design: Unanswered Question #9

We're back in Egypt for another important question about Ankh-Theb. The single most iconic Egyptian creature is, of course, the mummy. Magic hasn't made many cards in this vein before, possibly because they're so evocative of a specific flavor, which doesn't always fit into magepunk fantasy. Cyclopean Mummy and Vengeful Pharaoh are the two exceptions.

Many of our Ankh-Theb pitches have had some version of a Mummify mechanic, but I don't think any of them is a slam dunk. "Vanillification" isn't likely to be a crowd-pleaser, and reincarnating DFCs feel more Indian that Egyptian. It's also possible, as Wobbles suggested, that mummies simply aren't scary unless you take them out of ancient Egypt. Readers, can you build a better mummy?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CCDD 032613—Genovese Syndrome

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/26/2013 - Originally, I designed a card that was functionally identical to Awe Strike. Fortunately, a second attempt to find it in Gatherer was successful. I'm looking for white removal that feels old school white. I'm not entirely convinced Genovese Syndrome is white—I'd love to hear your opinion on that—but it is where this exploration took me for now, and an interesting card just the same.

Monday, March 25, 2013

CCDD 032513—Slavedriver

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/25/2013 - I'm not entirely sure this idea was already presented, but I couldn't find it anywhere. Regardless, I wanted to get your opinion on this version of oppress for Ankh-Theb. It wouldn't be a major keyword for the set, just a smaller one with the purpose of communicating another theme of the plane. Maybe appearing on just 10 cards between common and mythic.

Ekkremes: The Colour of Magic

HV: This pitch is by Antny.  Here are the pitches from rounds onetwo, and three.

What are the major mechanical themes in the set according to your vision?

Ekremes Tech driven colorless artifacts vs returning magical coloured creatures of myth and legend
Tech – metalcraft, operate, buildings
Magic – Anti-artifact/building spells and abilities, enchantments
Mixed – Metalcast – an option to allow players to use the card either
as a colorless artifact or a coloured non-artifact depending on what
suits their deck, hybrid coloured/colourless mana.

Weekend Art Challenge Review 032213—tigaer

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.

Set Design: Unanswered Question #8

We're back to the technological society of Ekkremes for today's question. One problem that we've faced throughout this idea's evolution has been using mana costs as a theme. In my opinion, having more than one mechanic that has to do with mana costs is out of the question. My reasoning is simple: Magic is about what happens on the battlefield. Alternate costs, kickers, cost reduction, et cetera are not where the focus of a set belongs. (If you don't believe me, count the mechanics in the last several blocks that are fundamentally about mana cost!)

So Ekkremes badly needs technology-related mechanics that aren't about mana cost. What are some fun things to do on the battlefield that work with this theme? Can we do something with vehicles? Mecha? Golems? Transformers? Rube Goldberg devices? There's a major risk of high complexity in such ideas, so try to keep it simple and elegant. Help us out: what goes on in the world of Ekkremes that's not about mana?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 032213—tigaer

Weekend Art Challenge
Click through to see this weekend's art by tigaer (aka Mr. Stripeypants!) and the design requirements for your card submission, due Monday morning. Remember that you may ask for feedback by mid-day Sunday and redesign your submission once after you get it.

CCDD 032213—Heart of the Taiga

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/22/2013 - I was thinking this morning about how perfect the Sunpetal Grove cycle and the Razorverge Thicket cycles are, when it occurred to me that they are entirely bottom-up designs. Both answer the question, "What kind of restriction can we put on a dual land that will keep them very usable in the right kinds of decks?" That's an excellent question to answer, but it's all about gameplay and none about resonance. What would a dual land with a top-down restriction look like?

I failed to answer that question today, but the attempt led me to something interesting just the same:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

CCDD 032113—A Whack on the Side of the Head

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/21/2013 - I was thinking how black is the only color that gets discard, and wondered how other colors could do it. I remembered how red often discards in order to draw, ala Goblin Lore. What if it could do that offensively? I set out to make a card like that and this is the result:

Set Design: Unanswered Question #7

We're back in the wild Frontier for this question. Although the original pitch was for "Cowboys vs. Eldrazi", we've also discussed using Sandwurms as the iconic fatties. To me, this seems like an excellent move. Sandwurms lend our world some supernatural excitement, but they also fit easily into the desert settings thanks to the cultural cachet of Dune. Because of our old friend Craw Wurm, they're very much at home in Magic as well.

But what are these Sandwurms actually like? How do they work differently from other fatties? (For example, do cowboys ride them?) What are some mechanical themes that will paint these monstrous creatures? Readers, help us out: what makes an awesome Sandwurm?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CCDD 032013—Infuriate

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/20/2013 - The conversation around yesterday's Giant Attack got me thinking about the value of trample as a combat trick. To explore that further, today's card is the other half of Wildsize.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

YMTC4: Enchantment or Land?

The fourth installment of You Make the Card is underway, and the current discussion is whether to design a Land card or an Enchantment card.

Going For Gold

Ever since Devon Rule first proposed them in the Second Great Designer Search, we've seen Gold Counters pop up in all sorts of design propositions, always with implementations very close to the original. We can do better.

CCDD 031913—Giant Attack

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/19/2013 - Today's a quickie.

File this under Commons That Should Already Exist.

Set Design: Unanswered Question #6

Our next question is about Ankh-Theb, the plane with ancient Egyptian flavor. We've looked recently at the worldly side of the plane: ambition, mighty Pharoahs, etc. But it's also important that ancient Egypt was a heavily religious society, with magic and gods taking a central role in daily life. Our cards need to reflect that fact. So, dear readers, how can we represent the mystical side of Egypt?

Monday, March 18, 2013

This Land is Your Land

I can imagine lots of possible goals for You Make the Card. Some people want to design the next tournament staple. Others want a new toy for their Commander of choice, or a tool for their favorite color, or an enabler or hoser for a particular strategy. But what matters most to me is that we create a card that appeals to as many players as possible. And that's why I'm on Team Land.

Weekend Art Challenge Review 031513—Sephiroth

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 031513—Sephiroth

Weekend Art Challenge
Click through to see this weekend's art by Sephiroth and the design requirements for your card submission, due Monday morning. Remember that you may ask for feedback by mid-day Sunday and redesign your submission once after you get it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Set Design: Unanswered Question #5

Today's question is again about the high-tech world of Ekkremes. Most recent sets feature struggles between different factions. It seems quite likely that one main faction in this world will be the technocrats: the people who are building all these awesome artifacts that we're in the process of designing. But what is the other faction? (Or factions?) Keep in mind that we must avoid repeating the Mirran vs. Phyrexian war. Also, note that flavor can get nailed down after we've worked out the actual mechanics: finding a rival "mechanical heart" is what we want, not just brainstorming the flavor of another faction.

So, readers, how can we characterize a faction that works against the machine faction?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CCDD 031313—Desert Warlord

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/13/2013 - Some wish for power. They are weak. Some are born with power. They are fools. True power is taken. You cannot be given power, for it is the act of taking that is power.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CCDD 031213—Jury-Rig

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/12/2013 - The idea of having various parts cards that may or may not be in your actual deck but can be combined to build something larger is the newest exciting idea for Ekkremes. I definitely want to explore that, but first I have to share a set of cards that offer a more traditional approach to basically the same end.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge Review 030813—Goddess Mechanic

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.

Set Design: Unanswered Question #4

Today's question is back in Frontier, our wild west world. Many of our pitches for Frontier have suggested the gameplay theme of Battlecruiser Magic. However, we don't yet know which sorts of mechanics will make this work best. We also need to avoid designing Rise of the Eldrazi 2, which makes the resemblance of gold counters to Eldrazi spawn undesirable. So tell us, readers: how can we find a fresh new take on Battlecruiser Magic for Frontier?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"What we're building, no one knows!"

This is how I feel about attempts to make Steamflogger Boss work:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 030813—GoddessMechanic

Weekend Art Challenge
Click through to see this weekend's art by GoddessMechanic and the design requirements for your card submission, due Monday morning. Remember that you may ask for feedback by mid-day Sunday and redesign your submission once after you get it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CCDD 030713—Great Pharaoh, High Priest & War Pharaoh

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/7/2013 - I've been looking for the universal thread woven into the great Egyptian tapestry and—wow, labored metaphors are really lame. Innistrad's Horror theme revolves around transformation. Ankh-Theb's Egyptian theme revolves around… greed and ambition. At least, that's making a lot of sense so far. If you think you can find something more central, please do share.

So, the big mechanic of Ankh-Theb—the one that makes this plane play differently from other destinations in the Multiverse—should read, look and/or play like the limitless ambition of a king who would make thousands of men sweet, bleed and die in the desert in order to build him the grandest monument of all. Like the unflinching greed of a slavemaster who would shackle, whip and dehumanize his kin so that he can wear the finest silks, drink foreign wine and buy girls for his harem. Like the mighty gods who demand sacrifice and tribute and repay doubt with death.

Of course now that I've built up what I'm going for, you can only be disappointed with the execution. But this is only meant as a starting point. Do better and we'll build upon our efforts like a pyramid. A Great Pyramid of LEGOS! *cough* Or something.

Set Design: Unanswered Question #3

Today's question is about our Egyptian world, Ankh-Theb. We've come up with quite a variety of mechanics for this world, but none of them is a game-changer. Chah made an insightful comment about this a while ago:
It seems to me that the most difficult challenge in designing these pitches is to find a mechanic that changes how Magic plays in a big way and creates a new game experience - something like Infect, DFCs, Level Up, Annihilator, Landfall, Hybrid mana, or Soulbond. 

Not every mechanic needs to do that - there can be fun but minor mechanics on the side like Cascade or Clash, or utility mechanics like Cycling. But it seems to me that most real-life sets have at least one mechanic that really sculpts new game play. 

The exception to that might be sets where the structure of the set itself rather than any single mechanic distinguishes the set's game play (such as the faction systems in Return to Ravnica and Lorwyn, or the high density of artifacts in the original Mirrodin).
Ankh-Theb certainly doesn't seem to be the sort of set that falls into the category described in the third paragraph. So tell us, readers: What is Ankh-Theb's game-changer mechanic?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

CCDD 030613—Orelian Lightkeeper, Caustic Fumes, Artificial Inception & Cyborgclops

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/6/2013 - This post tripled in length from what I intended when I started. Shrug.

Two of the mechanics suggested for Ekkremes are sunburst and colorless-hybrid mana, aka "twobrid." We've argued whether these mechanics are complementary or at odds influencing how many colors players will use in their Limited decks, but HavelockV and I agree that they at least shouldn't appear on the same card. While that creates fascinating interactions, it's complex both on paper and in practice. Let's explore a couple possibilities.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And the Nominees are...

In the beginning, the Core sets were formless and empty, and Forsythe said “Let there be Lightning Bolt!” And Forsythe saw that the Lightning Bolt was good, and he separated Magic 2010 from the Nth editions. And since then, each core set has had at least one classic common or uncommon reprint that was constructed worthy and selected to appeal to a wide range of players. Lightning Bolt was re-reprinted along with Mana Leak in M11, Mana Leak came back again for M12, and Rancor was reprinted for M13. Since core staples seem to stick around for two years at a time, it's probably safe to assume that Rancor will be back for M14. But could we get an additional staple reprint?

Set Design: Unanswered Question #2

The next question I'd like to put to our readers is about the technologically advanced world of Ekkremes. The original pitch and several of the subsequent variations used a mechanic called "Operate" to represent the interaction between people and machines. However, this mechanic comes with some problems: it reverses the usual direction of attachment, it takes creatures out of combat readiness (which is inherently something players won't want to do), and it requires a hefty chunk of text and complexity points. Is there a way Operate can be improved? Should we scrap it and find something different, or find a compelling new angle on the existing mechanic?

How can we mechanically portray human/machine interaction in Ekkremes? If we use Operate, what kind of designs will make it work best? If not, what replaces Operate?

CCDD 030513—Blacktree Brave, Elven Warsinger & Goblin Frontrunner

Cool Card Design of the Day
3/5/2013 - Once again, reading a Mark Rosewater article inspired a few designs. Today, I want to share three more Gruul-ish keywords.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 030113—Raven Mimura

Weekend Art Challenge
Let's try two new things this week. First, I'm going to give you a better environment to design for. Context is vital to a good design, so naming the plane this card is meant for might help us design to that set's needs.

Secondly, I'm going to offer an additional service for those interested. If you'd like me to give you feedback on your design before the official review, submit your entry before Sunday afternoon and note that desire explicitly in your comment. I will respond with my initial thoughts as I'm able and you will have the opportunity to revise your design once before the final review. I'm doing this because the only thing better than getting design feedback is being able to act on it and get even more feedback. Iteration is good design.

Click to see this weekend's art and requirements.