Monday, January 22, 2018

GDS3: Trial 1 Open Thread

The essay portion is done! How did it go for you? What did you think of the questions? How do you feel about your essays? (Maro has confirmed that it's okay to discuss answers after the deadline.)

129 comments:

  1. I think I submitted them too late! I waited until just at the deadline to keep proofreading my answers (and because I was nervous) and then the captcha failed the first time and it ended up being sent at 12:01. What a reason to not make the cut! But I suppose I should've sent them in an hour earlier.

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    1. I guess we'll see on Tuesday how hardwired the deadline was. Until then I can pray, I suppose.

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    2. I bet they do actually have some unadvertised slack after the deadline. But really do, make sure you submit this sort of thing waaaay before the deadline because often the servers have problems.

      (I didn't see a captcha, now I wonder if something was wrong for me. It did say "thank you".)

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    3. There definitely wasn't a captcha on saturday

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    4. I didn't get a captcha either.
      Maybe pre-emptively contact custom service to explain that you were a minute behind because of a weird captcha dealy?

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    5. No captcha here. Reach out to Mark on Twitter if you can't get customer service. They've been soft on deadlines thus far.

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    6. Maybe they have a captcha automatically kicks in as DDoS protection if the form's getting a lot of load (as I imagine would have happened around 11:50 last night).

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    7. I believe Maro hinted somewhere that they'd be forgiving if you just barely didn't make the deadline.

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    8. E-Mail confirmations have begun going out.

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    9. Yeah. Please do let us know.

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    10. Everyone who submitted in time and within the word limits advanced. Possibly more. Maro's twitter says "over 3000 / over 40%".

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  2. I went with

    + Devotion
    - Defender
    Lorwyn was a favorite but had awful board complexity;
    BFZ was no-good but the Eldrazi successfully felt alien;
    >> Champion deserves a second chance.

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    1. + Kicker
      - Prowess
      Kaladesh was a favorite but fabricate was a weak point;
      Hour of Devastation was a disappointment but it made small-set Limited environments work;
      >> Haunt deserves a second chance.

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    2. I love that one person chose Lorwyn as their favorite and another as their least.

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  3. I thought the questions were pretty good. They did the same sort of thing as previous GDS, but less specialised, you could ask the same questions in ten years time and get different answers.

    Some of my answers:

    Second chance: don't, but if you do, do haunt
    Remove evergreen: non-activated hexproof
    Add evergreen: totem armor; lots of other things would be nice, but totem armor fixes an ongoing problem with a major card type. Flying auras with totem armor are just better for the game than flying auaras with P/T boost.
    Greatest strength: it's a superset of all other games + storytelling
    Greatest weakness: Power creep (in retrospect, this is maybe a risk more than a weakness, I should have gone for something that's bad in current magic, not something that's kept under control)
    Best/worst set: I didn't have any convincing choices, but I think I did ok describing good and bad things that I personally cared about and that I didn't.
    One thing to change: A bunch of little stuff, plus, make a bigger effort to design standard so it doesn't have a single "solved" state, but there's always a (narrow) answer deck, to keep the churn going if one deck gets out of control, which happens every few years.

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    1. Interesting! What do you mean by a superset of all other games?

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    2. I didn't put that well, but almost anything in any game (strategy, tactics, story, flavour, managing odds, bluff, evaluating statistics, designing your own play experience, emergent complexity, casual play, high-level play) there is in magic, it has everything at once.

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    3. I disagree strongly with that.
      Play more types of games!

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  4. I felt satisfied about the essays which I spent significant time editing. Less so about those where I gave a rather predictable answer, so the argument didn't need careful sculpting. (But sometimes the right answer is predictable!)

    Promote to evergreen: Cycling. (Booooooring!)

    Demote from evergreen: First Strike. It's just a bad, free version of Regeneration. Attacking-only Bushido would be better.

    Teaching Magic: Promote agency by letting them make choices. Get the cards into their hands ASAP so they can start processing visually.

    Greatest strength: Play-build-play feedback loop allows for infinite theorycrafting.

    Greatest weakness: Investment required to learn. (Again, kind of an obvious response.)

    Reprise: Haunt. First, decide whether you want it on creatures or spells. Then you don't need to shoehorn it into working the same-ish way on both.

    Favorite: Khans. Morph shouldn't have been there; pulled a lot of focus despite being completely irrelevant to the world.

    Least favorite: Lorwyn. Loved the lighter, friendlier, funnier tone.

    Change: Two answers. Within the game, significantly retooling mana fixing/ramp effects. In the real world, devoting company resources to community management to address problems with sexism, racism, homophobia. Be proactive and stop losing people like Christine Sprankle.

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    1. I really like some of your answers. Haunt seems like a more popular choice than I would have guessed.

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    2. Thanks! I think Haunt is actually a very simple mechanic with a ton of design space; it's just the Guildpact implementation that makes it look narrow and convoluted.

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    3. Ugh, and I just realized the Haunt trigger isn't a "may", which makes some of my recommendations worse. Hopefully they'll interpret it as revamped and not identical, because it's trivial to fix.

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    4. I assumed there would be little tweaks, I can't remember if I spelled that out or not. Devotion is usually counted as a successful rehabilitation and that changed the details quite a bit.

      A discussion of haunt came up in one of Jay's questions recently, that's when I realised how much potential I thought it could have, I wonder if other people commenting here were inspired by the same question.

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    5. I didn't realize haunt had so much support, or I might not have picked it! I recommended revamping. Creature only, and make it like a cross between undying and bestow. Exile's a really hard place to interact with.

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    6. Yeah, I thought everyone considered haunt irredeemable, apparently not :)

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    7. I had the exact same promotion/demotion answers, although for slightly different reasons (I think first strike sends mixed signals about the colors it's in, since it can be defensive in red and offensive in white, and often stalls boards). I also favorited Khans and suggested yanking Morph from it.

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    8. The board stalling to me is ultimately the reason it's bad. Regenerate doesn't have the same problem because it requires leaving mana open, but a 3/1 First Strike can take away all viable attacks for ages.

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    9. I dont know if its a GA thing but I picked Haunt as well. Hell it would be cool asf on Innistrad as creatyres flipping from the grave and it solves the issue of the Spirits being the least sexy od all 5 tribes.

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    10. The only reason I didn't choose haunt was that we'd discussed it here so I expected others to cover it (and it wasn't my idea to begin with). I also managed to restrain myself from saying that.

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    11. Yeah for a second I was worried about it but Haunt fit so well. Even the question was a rewording if what Maro himself once said about it.

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    12. I actually argued against evergreen cycling when I was arguing for Convoke.

      Cylcing and Scry both at evergreen give us too much draw smoothing per set, this would make decks too consistent and push out space for draw smoothing set mechanics like Explore, if you note the pattern for draw smoothing volume is Scry+ maybe a Set mechanic.
      2. Scry is a better evergreen draw smoother than cycling. It has better flavor, is built into the mulligan rule (something wotc had wanted to do for years but needed scry at evergreen first to pull off and its lower powerlevel lets it function on a more granular level.

      It was Basically Stoddard's arguemenr with my own logical deduction added about pushing out set mechanics.

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    13. I had the same reaction. Two evergreen smoothing mechanics is too many.

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  5. I feel pretty good about all my answers EXCEPT for the very first one where I have to pitch myself...

    Promote to Evergreen: Detain in U/W. I argue that it actually reduces complexity by standardizing a bunch of different effects in those colors that keep players from using their creatures.

    Demote: Defender. Nobody even notices when it's not in a set.

    Teaching Magic: Use current state of game to help teach what actual play experience will be like. In this case, Ixalan and tribe-themed decks.

    Greatest strength: Synthesis of narrative (and philosophy) with mechanics and gameplay creates immersion that fosters emotional connection with the game and particular colors/playstyles/etc.

    Greatest weakness: Digital platform is years behind where it should be, and that's a barrier to bringing in new players. The company still seems to operate on the assumption of paper play.

    Reprise: Meld. Initial intro in small set with too many competing mechanics. I also point out they actually already "fixed" meld's design problems in Unstable with host-augment.

    Favorite: Kaladesh. But too many ETB effects have distorted game environment and critically devalued permanents that don't immediately affect the board state. (I argue the energy problem is actually an ETB problem)

    Least Favorite: Getting maybe too real by dumping on Ixalan, which doesn't have a whole lot of exploration or discovery because it's tribe-based and therefore design requires clarity on where cards are supposed to go. Exception is the enchantments/artifacts flipping into lands, which I think are awesome and add some real dynamic tension in gameplay.

    Change: Reduce the availability of permanent removal at instant speed. White has too much. Black doesn't pay enough of a price for it. Green shouldn't have it at all. Even blue bounces should keep the game environment in mind so that they're not easy kill spells.

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    1. I definitely agree on Ixalan. Aside from the DFCs, it's straightforward tribal stuff that we've seen a million times before.

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    2. Defender is a good answer! I didn't think of that. Most of the time you can just print a 0/X instead. It only really matters with a creature that's biggish but can't attack (and they could just say "can't attack").

      Yeah, I find pitching myself hard.

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    3. The fact that people don't even think about defender is one of the reasons I pointed to in the essay. People would notice if a set didn't contain any creatures with flying or trample. I suspect hardly anybody noticed that the initial Amonkhet block had absolutely no creatures with defender in it.

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    4. Yeah, good logic. Removing things that everyone takes for granted but don't pull their weight is a good choice.

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    5. Yeah Defender snuck up on me.

      I picked Prowess to demote to decidous with the arguement it basically already is. How many evergreen mechanics skips multple sets and entire blocks? WOTC even says they cant do it at common and the triggers prove an issue.

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    6. I'm glad to see that someone else went for prowess. I was scared of removing defender because of cards like Doorkeeper and company that specify "defender" (as opposed to "X can't attack"), and I didn't see the point of keeping defender as a non-evergreen keyword.

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    7. Prowess would have been my second choice. It just feels like a desperately lazy attempt to make red-blue decks possible even in a set where it's not intended. And I love red-blue!

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    8. Hey dont get me wrong, I effin live prowess and I love Prowess decks (they are like storm decks but not horrible) But I deliberatly went with the lowest impact choice. Codifying what they are already doing instead of a whole new push seemed a stronger position to defend. It also let me quote wotc reasoning back to them.

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    9. Ipaulsen: the fact that cards like Doorkeeper and Overgrown Battlement mention the keyword are exactly why I pushed for defender to not be evergreen. Mentioning keywords like that to gain popularity is exactly what set mechanics are for.

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    10. Yeah, the interactions with Doorkeeper et al is a bad reason not to remove defender for the same reason devoid was a lackluster mechanic. Markers that do nothing but mark are boring. Defender only stops the creature from attacking in the literal sense. Being a 0/4 with a tap ability does a much better job of conveying 'hey don't swing with me.' They could key the counting abilities off of some other trait like 0 power if they if they want to count creatures.

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    11. Wise words.
      "Defender only stops the creature from attacking in the literal sense. Being a 0/4 with a tap ability does a much better job"

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    12. I disagree. In terms of comprehension complexity I'd rather Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs / Thermo-Alchemist had defender than not. Gleaming Barrier and Consulate Skygate too-- "being a wall" is such an intuitive concept that they would have been worse cards without defender. Limiting players' options so they use the cards correctly is not necessarily a bad thing

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    13. I'm watching the Twitch stream of "Magic: Arena" and the dev is weirdly ambivalent about having tutorials. It's possibly he just doesn't know but I'm grinding my teeth about it. I was pretty damned blunt about the state of their digital presence.

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  6. Some summaries of my answers. I probably spent way too much time overthinking these things, but the editing down part was really engaging.

    Promote to Evergreen: Kicker (On a scale from Flying to Indestructible, 9 or 10). It's flexible, set agnostic, and the fact that it was ever printed crowds out potential keywords - so just use kicker instead.

    Demote from Evergreen: Defender. It's the least popular evergreen. It's the only remaining drawback. It increases board complexity by encouraging board stalls. Most of its design space involves ignoring it, and the rest is as a boring marker mechanic. You can replicate it using less text than the reminder text. It's basically the same as 0 power in most other cases.

    Teaching Magic: Learner-centered instruction. Start with a color that ties into what they personally find cool about magic (little 'm'). Start with simple creatures, sorceries, and lands. Make sure they are having fun. Ramp you way up slowly. Play up the drama.

    Magic's greatest strength: Unparalleled modularity, stemming from the continuous production of material. There's something for everyone, and there's always more. This comes with a responsibility to keep magic fun and interesting with new sets and pruning of current ones.

    Magic's greatest weakness: Ever-growing barrier to entry. You simply cannot put two people alone in a room with the comprehensive rules and all the cards and expect them to learn how to play. Fortunately Wizards has millions of volunteer teachers if they can make the tools available and promote local communities. It's Magic: the Gathering, not Magic: the Soloing.

    Second Chance: Haunt. It had some things going against it the first time around (one of the first sets to use exile as a non-utility zone, branched onto non-creatures for no reason to uninspiring results, artificial compression of design space from the crowding of mechanics in Ravnica block). I recommended revamping instead of reprinting.

    Favorite Set: Innistrad. The problem with Innistrad was the sets around it felt like a low note due to poor execution of block planning. Dark Ascension felt a half step off because there was very little mechanical progression. That's at least partially Innistrad's fault, especially since the sets had the same lead designer. I highlighted some things Innistrad could have saved to help Dark Ascension feel more special (Curses, twists on Morbid, etc)

    Least Favorite Set: Planar Chaos. I loved it when it first came out, but it had problems with complexity and rules breaking that I only noticed as I grew as a designer. It did speed up some appropriate shifts, like Cambrian Piesplosion, and it was an object lesson of the importance of negative space in design.

    Change: I made a suggestion to keyword triggers to the game (think Hearthstone's deathrattle/battlecry, etc). They're mechanically different enough from ability words to deserve their own category - they always have the same trigger. If cards can refer to them it opens up design space. They can be reworded to help lower the amount of text players need to read to grok the card.

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    1. Keywording those triggers we use over and over really seems like a win.
      We had a number of similar answers!

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    2. Yeah I think a few of the questions have 'right' answers. I tried to be a little unique on those when I could, but I'm worried I didn't really say anything revelatory.

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  7. I'm confident in my writing, but this was still a lot of work and stress. Several of the essays were just distilling articles I've written here down to 350 words.

    I skipped the humility this time and went all professional brags. I feel uncomfortable about that, but I'm told that's how one interviews.

    +Monstrosity.

    -Hexproof if we can replace it. -Defender if not.

    2HG to teach.

    + Constant progress and reinvention

    - Barriers to entry

    Fix delirium

    +Innistrad -Trying to recapture lightning

    -Homelands +First attempts / Getting better

    Change: Make the community more welcoming.

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    1. Can you expound on your answer to Innistrad? I also answered with that set and I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

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    2. I was shocked that you posted a Weekend Design Challenge. "Whoa, is Jay already done with all his essays?"

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    3. It's easy to post a WDC. It's reviewing it that's taking me all day.

      Noah, I talked about how industries try to emulate critical successes and how that will never lead to another critical success, because novelty is fundamental to the formula.

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  8. My answers don't match much if what others are saying but I feel like they had validity.

    + Cycling (Boring, but easily put into all colors and lots of design space)

    -Equip (It is evergreen and a bunch of the equipment floating around seems just tacked onto sets, act like it is a double faced card. Not always necessary for sets.)

    A gamut of playing and showing how to play to teach.

    + Interaction. The main thing missing from other card games.

    -Long Dev Cycles. Causes a disconnect with what is happening. I did note some of the work being done to fix it though.

    Make it just splice onto instant or sorcery. It is a good use of a mechanic to byo charms and what not but making it only onto arcane made it parasitic.

    +Kala but needed actual answers.

    -Amomkhet because it felt someway forced by the story.

    Change to blend the color pie a bit more so we have less complete domination of colors.

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    1. For most of these, it was less about a "right" answer and more about avoiding wrong answers/demonstrating you understand design by supporting your answers.

      Moving Equip to deciduous is a bold call, but I dig it.

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    2. "it was less about a "right" answer and more about avoiding wrong answers/demonstrating you understand design by supporting your answers."

      Well put.

      Also agree, I was surprised to see equip, but your logic makes sense.

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  9. I was able to come up with answers pretty well - once the words started flowing it felt like doing practice essays on GA, but longer-form. I’m really glad we had practice!

    Add: Exert, double-tapped is easy to grok and saves words on blue spells

    Remove: Defender, only drawback keyword and vestige of Bad Old Magic

    Step by step instructions to teach someone the game, starting with resources (mana, cards) and moving to strategy (creatures, targeting). Let them win!

    Best part is creature combat, both in strategic complexity, ease of grasping and flavor resonance

    Worst part is lack of sufficient top-down support for women/nonmales in the community, and weeding out stores/individuals who hinder that. Went a bit personal essay re: my wife not wanting to come to FNM and how that’s an indictment.

    Haunt, but as more or less a DFC into a negative Aura. No triggers. More in line with what people’s preconception of “haunting” looks like.

    New Phyrexia was great but Dismember destroyed the color pie, and that’s Real Bad

    Legions was terrible, but saved Slivers and did them really well

    I’d change the card back! It doesn’t sell the game well, and digital gives us the ability at least online to go somewhere more in line with the modern game. Tried to sell my personality/sense of humor a bit with this one.

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    1. I didn't even think about using Exert as a keyword replacement on Frost effects. But it basically already exists as evergreen so they might as well keyword it.

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    2. That's exactly why I pitched detain, but exert can work, too.

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    3. Oooh, I forgot Exert! Good one.

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    4. "Exert target creature" is such a flavor miss that I don't think R&D will use it in that form. I could see it being an evergreen mechanic on your own creatures, though, and I'm kicking myself for neglecting it just because it wasn't on the Storm Scale list.

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    5. It's a 3. I have a list I've been updating. I don't remember where I saw it though. Maybe tumblr?

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    6. Exert was my second choice, but I had a lot less to say about it. It's just... like... clearly a useful tool. I really wanted something that would be color-specific too.

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  10. Goblin Artisans: WE ALL LOVE HAUNT

    Also I went back and looked at the recent thread and realized that my Haunt examples are nearly identical to Jay's and lpaulsen's. It was convergent design rather than deliberate plagiarism (since I was considering many options) but I'm sure that discussion planted some seeds.

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    1. Haunt is the bomb. I wanted it in SoI.

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    2. Yeah, haunt had a... moment a few weeks ago. I used it as an answer to "returning mechanic on Innistrad" in the first Hipsters training article, then later in the week it showed up on one of Jay's practice questions, and suddenly everyone was talking about it.

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  11. There were a lot of questions that had open room for interpretation. I made sure to include how I interpreted the questions into my answer.

    2) Add Exert (super flexible and goes in any color)

    3) Remove Hexproof (because it's not necessary or common)

    5) Magic is many games for many different people.

    6) Continual Complexity creep due to new mechanics is necessary but a problem.

    7) Bands with Other. I interpreted this as like Chroma being remade into Devotion. A new mechanic that keeps the theme of attacking and blocking within your tribe and choosing who survives combat.

    8) KTK had mechanical overload.

    9) DKT really was all about dragons in both standard and limited.

    10) Change Standard rotation to every set.

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    1. I like that last suggestion. It's especially viable now with no small sets moving forward.

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    2. It's been my biggest soapbox since they dropped the 18 month rotation. I specifically mentioned things like a more inclusive community but called out that I was looking what was best for from a branding perspective.

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    3. Bands with Other is gutsy! Based on your description I even kinda buy it.

      Sounds like my answers to 5 and 6 were similar to yours.

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  12. Add evergreen: Flashback (also considered cycling and exert)
    Remove evergreen: Hexproof
    Teach a stranger Magic: Pauper decks
    Greatest strength of Magic: Open-endedness
    Greatest weakness of Magic: Development lacking resources to keep up with the velocity of format-solving
    Mechanic deserving second chance: Haunt
    Favorite expansion and worst thing: Invasion, spells were too good and didn't let the cool creatures shine
    Least favorite expansion and best thing: Saviors of Kamigawa, and, uh, willingness to attempt design in difficult spaces (hand size matters)
    Change one thing about Magic: End the reserve list

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  13. + Convoke (Primary U for spells, B for creatures, Tertiary all other colors)
    - Hexproof (UG has flash, in G primarily used on spells in the same space as Indestructible UeoT, in U used on average once per set on a creature, and reduces interaction)
    Teach a stranger magic - I hated this question. So many words wasted on the process, I really had to squeeze in my designery thoughts.
    Strength - Magic is a language, and each format is a different game that speaks that language.
    Weakness - Dolla Bills, y'all.
    Second Chance - Affinity for things that are not necessarily artifacts on planes that are not necessarily Mirrodin.
    Worst thing about Best Expansion: Ravnica is the best set ever, but 3/4 of the keyword mechanics were big failures for different reasons.
    Worst set, best thing: Prophesy was the unfun spike-fest that should have stopped Odyssey from ever happening, but it had three cycles of splashy timmy rares that stood out and built excitement in the badness.

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    1. Change one thing.

      I was on the fence. I went with pitching changes to the Core set to be 50% reprints from one beloved set or block, partially emulating that draft environment while still being a new set.

      The other answer I considered, rejected, and regretted rejecting at 11PM last night when I was too done to switch to it is, I would kill male pronouns from the game for a year. Things would just go to her graveyard, not his or her graveyard. It's a practice I already do in my own designs, and sends a strong message from Wizards to some less savory elements of our community.

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    2. Ugh yes. I could easily have written 3500 words on "teach a stranger Magic". Really an absurd length limitation for that kind of question.

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    3. And I love your female pronouns for a year answer, although it's hard to imagine a huge corporate game like Magic taking such an overtly feminist stance. Dolla dolla bill.

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    4. 'She/her' is my default pronoun when writing rulebooks for my games. I only use 'he/him' to differentiate multiple players.

      (Actually, I use 'you' and 'we' recently since rulebooks should be read aloud at the table.)

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    5. I've been using "top card of their library" and the like for ages now. It saves space and while it might be less overt in one sense, it includes everyone.

      I have noticed and appreciated Jay's commitment to female pronouns. I also like using the female versions of the psychographics.

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    6. Agree that teach a stranger to play magic was way too hard to fit in, at least if you wanted to go into any detail.

      But, especially with so many people entering I'd guess putting anything explained well better than something wrong or a poor explanation.

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    7. "They/Their" is a strong choice too.

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  14. + Ninjustsu(Renamed)
    -First Strike
    Strength: The mana system
    Weakness: The mana system
    Second Chance: Affinity
    Worst of the Best: Future Sight, specifically that the proliferation of mechanics made it impossible for the set to have focus for people that couldn't read the cards with unique keywords as just not having a keyword.
    Best of the Worst: The ingest/process of BFZ
    1 Change: Charge creatures that create value a mana cost commensurate with their size/value. Creatures should be good on rate or generate value but not both.

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    1. Same strength and weakness is clever. I was thinking of doing that.

      Future sight as a favorite? Ingest/process as the best part of BfZ? Good on you for being bold. I don't think many would agree with you.

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    2. Ninjutsu renamed, not bushido renamed?

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    3. Correct. Bushido renamed would be fine, but I don't see why you would do it. what hole is it filling? What's the reason? I promoted ninjutsu to fill the hole for a u/b evergreen keyword. It is a 6 on the storm scale so maybe it would need further changes, but it seems like a space worth exploring.

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    4. Ah, the long-awaited UB keyword. Ninjutsu still strikes me as a little narrow, but I agree it's the best option out there. Unless you count kicker, which is what I tried to do.

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    5. Ah, yeah. It's true ninjitsu was the best UB mechanic. It's narrow, but I guess if you can get even one or two cards with it a set, it's pulling some weight.

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    6. It doesn't seem narrow to me. It just wants saboteurs which they make anyway. You'd have to balance the cards such that you assume the first hit always happens, which might be the problematic part, and it amplifies the etb abilities in a set, but if those are costed correctly it charges you a full mana cost. What I like about it is that it rewards attacking. Bushido, like first strike, works on defense so multiple bushido creatures can block and get the bonus but can't necessarily attack, leading to board stalls.

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  15. In case anyone's interested, I did a post with ten GDS-ish questions I prepared answers to that I liked, but didn't end up on the actual test. In general the test was more philosophical than I expected, and less concrete and detail-oriented.

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  16. Questions for those who demoted First Strike: Did you keep it in the game as a non-evergreen keyword, or kill it entirely? What did you do with double strike?

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    1. Yeah. I'd have a hard time getting rid of first strike and keeping Double Strike from a complexity standpoint. At least you can explain Double Strike as First Strike and "normal strike".

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    2. I didn't have the word count to include it in my essay, but I'd be fine getting rid of both entirely.

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    3. I got rid of first strike as an evergreen keyword specifically because too much first strike leads to board stalls. I'm fine with it existing in small amounts or as a keyword given by temporary effects and just made it deciduous.

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  17. Can someone post/link the questions for non americans and others who could not enter, I am very interested :), thanks in advance

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    1. 1. Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.

      2. An evergreen mechanic is a keyword mechanic that shows up in (almost) every set. If you had to make an existing keyword mechanic evergreen, which one would you choose and why?

      3. If you had to remove evergreen status from a keyword mechanic that is currently evergreen, which one would you remove and why?

      4. You're going to teach Magic to a stranger. What's your strategy to have the best possible outcome?

      5. What is Magic's greatest strength and why?

      6. What is Magic's greatest weakness and why?

      7. What Magic mechanic most deserves a second chance (aka which had the worst first introduction compared to its potential)?

      8. Of all the Magic expansions that you've played with, pick your favorite and then explain the biggest problem with it.

      9. Of all the Magic expansions that you've played with, pick your least favorite and then explain the best part about it.

      10. You have the ability to change any one thing about Magic. What do you change and why?

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  18. I had a really hard week and I didn't get started until 5PM. With editing, I managed to get the answers in a few minutes before the deadline. I think I did a good job, and I don't believe in jinxes, so I'm planning out a timeline for the next stage right now to ensure I don't have to submit last minute again.

    2: Bushido, renamed to Fortitude and put in Black and Green to give those colors back the feeling of toughness and unkillability that they lost with Regeneration. It would also help distinguish defensive black creatures from Blue, and Aggressive ones from White, small Green creatures from White and large Green creatures from Red.

    3: Hexproof. I like the mechanic and believe it will always have a place in the game, just not at evergreen, where it restricts interaction too much and can't really be at common.

    4: Tell them about each color and hand them a deck of the color they like the most. Use cards from their deck to explain the basics, then play. This lets you gloss over things that other colors do until they understand the basics. It also ensures they have something to be invested in. If they like the idea of throwing fireballs, give them a deck with fireballs to throw.

    5: The Color-Pie. It provides a fundamental backbone both for ongoing design and player experience. It makes it so players can leave the game for ten years and come back. It makes it so you can explain the game to five-year olds. It guides design at every level. It's the reason that Magic has so much design space but remains accessible.

    6: Complexity Creep. Even though there are safeguards, like the color-pie, and even though Wizards has gotten much better at keeping an eye on this, it will still always be the game's biggest problem. Magic has a 200 page rule-book. It will always be a big job making sure it remains accessible with so much growth and iteration.

    7: Soulbond. Avacyn Restored had a bad reception, but not for design reasons (except for the as-fan of the removal in the set, which was a nightmare). Soulbond, to me, has such an incredible story of design. It started as a half-serious joke to "fix" banding in Scars Block, and over the course of three years it slowly iterated into an elegant and impressive design that addresses the "aura problem" in a totally unique way. It has a ton of design space, as you can put almost anything on a Soulbond creature as long as that's all you put on it. The name isn't even Innistrad specific. Best-Friends.mechanic deserves another shot.

    8: Shadowmoor. I hope it doesn't count as cheating that I talked about Lorwyn a bit. Shadowmoor didn't have the same level of board complexity issues, but it's use of Hybrid and Twobrid, both amazing mechanics, resulted in a limited format that made the colors seem interchangeable. Boo. Untap was a flat-out bad idea, and after the set hit New World Order had to revamp most of what we thought about the game to get it back on track. Lorwyn block was the villain that inspired Magic to do a training montage and become the hero it is today.

    9: Origins. The designs of the cards were so strong, but you didn't get to play with them because it was so nauseatingly fast. I have put so many Origins cards into my cube, but none of them were playable in draft. Origins brought us the the Flip-Walkers though, which I believe cemented Double-Faced cards as mechanic that would return outside of Innistrad. They are also maybe the tightest cycle of Mythics ever. Ugh, the idea of taking a creature and giving it a spark trigger is already brilliant, but giving us teenage versions of the games iconic characters on top of that! <3

    10: The game needs to be more accessible to people other than white dudes. What I specifically said was "You asked me if I could change something. I wouldn't change that you're trying to make the game more accessible, because you already are. I would change it so you'd already succeeded."

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    1. 5pm on the Sunday? Wow. 3000 words in 7 hours is seriously impressive!

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  19. Damn thats a clever answer for #10. I had issues for it because my one thing was basically "Make Magic Arena" so I had some trouble with that one.

    Although I disagree Green and Black needed something to cover the spot Regeneration did, Indestructible until end of turn already does.

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    1. It's not that Green and Black need a tool to make that possible, though I will say that Bushido goes on creatures and Indestructible until end of turn goes on Instants.

      My full argument was that since Bushido could fit into any color other if you gave it the right flavor, you should pick colors that needed either a combat ability or more design space to distinguish them from their neighbors. I'm not sure if Black and Green need it the most, but I wanted to argue for putting it somewhere specific rather than just saying that you could.

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    2. Indec until end of turn ALSO goes on creatures. Wily Bandar for example, its literally replaced regenration both on spell effects snd activated and triggered abilities.

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  20. They graded these fast! I just got my email saying I'm in Round 2!

    As for my interesting answers:

    Evergreen + cycling. Boring but I said it just needed to be flavored better as indecisive or elusive creatures and spells.

    Mechanic try 2: Epic, but changing the "you can't cast spells for rest of game" to "when you cast a spell, stop casting this one".

    Weakness: Gave them a hard time for 4th banning in Standard and no ability to patch cards.

    One change: free mulligan based on land count for Standard and Limited.

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    1. They haven't been graded yet. The first trial is technically trials 1 and 4. The first one is 'Did you do the thing?' The second is the multiple choice test. The third is the design challenge. The fourth is 'How well did you do the thing?'

      They aren't going to read 30,000 pages of essays. They're going to cut to 100ish people, then use the content of the essays as a means to judge the remaining entrants. Way less work.

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    2. That's a very neat idea for epic.

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    3. I'll want to hear more about that mulligan suggestion at some point.

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    4. Yeah, Noah, that would make sense. I was very surprised that the multiple choice test wasn't the first trail for the reason that it could quickly cut down to a lot of people.

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    5. I think they ordered it the way they did because they needed to get certain criteria in place. They want *ALL* of the entrants to complete the essays so they can grade them, and they want *ALL* of the finalists to have high scores on the multiple choice. If they ordered them the other way, there's no guarantee that all of the people that scored highly on the test will complete the essays, but there's no way to be sure. So you'd get an unknown number of people. This way, they know everyone taking the test will have completed the essays, so when they cut to 100 they have 100, not some number between 100 and 50.

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    6. That, and writing 3000 words about Magic design is a good way to prove you're serious about it.

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    7. Very cool idea for Epic. I like it.

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  21. + Detain: red has been getting land kinda-detain lately anyway

    - Indestructible: design treats it like high toughness + hexproof, just do one or the other

    Teach with digital, shuffling is surprisingly hard for non-tabletop players

    Best: format of game encourages creativity and investment, different formats encourage different routes of engagement

    Worst: high tension between exploring new themes and representing fundamental color characteristics (kaladesh + artifact removal as an example)

    Second chance: enchantment creatures (not a named mechanic but definitely treated as one by theros block)

    Fav set: Shards of Alara had almost no cross-shard synergy in its mechanics

    Least fav set: Innistrad because I couldn't care about gothic horror but I appreciate what DFCs did for the game

    Change summoning sickness to include all activated abilities, not just tap ones. Very common point of confusion among learners, and it would make cards like Ravager less dangerous and easier to print

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    1. I disagree about indestructible. It's important as a replacement for protection / regenerate. I considered swapping it with high toughness, but that makes Murder effects so much better (and they're quite good already).

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    2. I'd not heard the confusing between activated abilities and summoning sickness before, though it's entirely believable. What about triggered abilities?

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    3. I didn't argue to remove indestructible entirely, just to demote it to deciduous status. It's one of the more uncommon evergreens already, and many of the sources that grant indestructible (I cited Adanto Vanguard's activated ability and a few combat tricks as examples) could easily grant either toughness boosts or hexproof and retain functionality. Indestructible lowers the stakes of combat decisions when it shows up too often.

      For the activated abilities - every single Magic learner I've met has had that question.
      "Okay, I tap my Prodigal Pyromancer for 1 damage."
      "Oh you can't, summoning sickness, remember?"
      "But you just used your Sakura-Tribe Elder?"
      or some variant of that. I cited a few broad categories of activated abilities (firebreathing, shade, etc) that are rarely relevant until the creature is attacking anyway which mitigates a lot of possible design constraints.
      Plus, the change doesn't let people immediately dump their hand to a Psychatog or poop out four thopters for what that's worth.

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  22. 2nd round yay. I don't think they could read all those. I feel stupid for getting the word count accurate. Did anyone not make the cut based on essays or were they just weeding out scams ?

    Gotta go from evergreen: hexproof; especially too powerful on large creatures;

    Bring back: protection knights in opposing colors! More balanced. Bring back shroud too. Hexproof should only be used on small boggle types.

    Favorite set : Pre modern, Arabian Nights (obvious nostalgic reasons); modern-, lorwyn for flavor and innovations , return to ravnica for balance and cool single spells. The worst thing about Lorwyn was complexity and dominance of Faeries ( which wasn't so dominant in my area where people were playing merfolk early and good rock decks, etc..)



    Least favorite was Khans because I hatedmorph and outlast, but I still liked the flavor and many cool legendary creatures.

    How to teach magic: build simple sttarter decks restricted to creatures and removal.

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    1. They'll read the essays after cutting to top 100 with the multiple choice exam. Reading 100 people's essays is already a huge expenditure of time- 3000 would be impossible.

      The reason they put the essay test first is to stop cheaters. Otherwise, you could take the multiple choice test five times with different e-mail addresses, picking different answers on questions where you felt uncertain.

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    2. Thanks Havelock! Ordering makes sense now.

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    3. Ooooh! Right, yes, that's a good reason to put the essays before the multiple choice. (And yes, the essays really do matter, but they don't matter *yet*)

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  23. I have some advice from my field for the Multiple Choice Quiz; commit ahead of time to not settling on any answers until you've discussed the problem with yourself and done any appropriate research.


    Researching and engaging with the problem first will mean you have more information guiding your choice. Selecting an answer first, even one you think of as a placeholder, has a strong anchoring effect that will make it harder to change your mind afterward. Committing to an answer by clicking a bubble will make you more than twice as likely to stick to it compared to someone who did not when you both had the same information.

    Obviously there will be no way to avoid thinking about the right answer while you read the quiz. You'll need to read it to plan your research. Making a commitment not to settle on any answers and spending more time thinking about the question is normally sufficient to avoid anchoring. You can, and should, read the answers provided as they will give important clues to the solution. Your state of mind while you do this does matter.

    Normal quiz protocol is to to write down your best answer and come back later. That's an important rule because quizzes are normally given in very narrow time-frames. Unless you only have a few hours to do the work because of other obligations, I would NOT do this with the GDS3 quiz.

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    1. I'll also quickly mention to watch out for positional bias. Many people give higher priority to choices that come first. Don't let it cost you an answer!

      Also pattern bias. Something I intend on doing is copying the test over and shuffling the answers. Be careful when you do this that you map the correct answer back again, but it will keep you from doing things like not picking A because "They wouldn't make A the answer three times in a row!" creeps into your subconscious.

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    2. This is excellent and useful. Thank you!

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  24. I haven't posted here before, but I've been lurking a while so I figured I'd share my answers:

    1. I talked about myself.

    2. I chose Exalted (in W/U). My original choice was Flanking (renamed and tweaked) but MaRo said on his blog to use mechanics as-is. I chose Exalted to give Blue a combat oriented mechanic and explained that the gameplay Exalted promotes (leave most creatures back and attack only with one) is very Blue.

    3. Hexproof to decicious and use it mostly on cards like Blossoming Defenses and Horror of the Dim. No more cards without any period of vulnerability.

    4. Don't start with the mana system or colors. Start by introducing creatures and how combat works, because that is the core of the game. Mana system is important but you want to get people interested to learn and mana is not the way to do that.

    5. Universal Appeal. Magic has something for everybody, as evidenced by the psychographics and the color pie. The psychographics wouldn't have come about if Magic didn't have all of these different types of players.

    6. Complexity creep. Even though NWO is fighting against it, the standard for complexity is lower than ever before with simple games like Hearthstone. Don't dumb down the game but find ways to attract players quickly and keep them interested, otherwise they'll find an easier alternative.

    7. Energy. Kaladesh Energy did a lot of things wrong and I explained how I would work to fix the problems, because I don't believe that energy is an inherently busted mechanic.

    8. Favorite - Kaladesh. What it did wrong - failed to evoke the "feel like an inventor" motto that design was aiming for. Gave some examples.

    9. Least Favorite - Dragons of Tarkir. What it did right - a whole lot of stuff. Development may have pushed things too hard but (other than megamorph) the set was well designed and appealed strongly to a lot of people. My dislike of the set it not indicative of the quality of the set.

    10. I would change the card frames to make them more visually appealing and to work better with card recognition technology that is fast approaching (we've already seen it in pre-pre-releases and with Hearthstone Innkeeper extension on Twitch). Cards should be easily distinguishable at a glance & from a distance so: add new frames for each card type (ala Future Sight), slightly increase the size of card art (helps with card recognition), and slightly increase P/T box (it's the most important aspect of many creatures).

    ---

    I feel pretty comfortable about most of them, but I think #9 is my weakest answer.

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    1. I had the exact same answer for #8. I pointed to Fabricate as the main place this came up short.

      Based on how you describe #9, I'm not sure what you mean by "a whole lot of stuff". This essay format really encourages you to identify one thing and argue for it.

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    2. I didn't have a space to make that same point, but there was originally in my ETB critique of Kaladesh something along the lines of "Despite the emphasis on invention, you didn't really have to work for anything."

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    3. Yeah, my critique is that it didn't feel like you were inventing, it felt like you were playing with things other people invented. The modules were the closest, but they ultimately were just pretty bad and not all that fun to build with.

      On #9 I went through a few specific aspects of DtK that I didn't like but that were actually well done. Dragons were cool for Timmy, tons of cool stuff for Spike (maybe too pushed), but not a lot for Johnny.

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