Saturday, January 27, 2018

GDS3: Trial 2 Open Thread

The multiple choice test is over! How did it go for you? What questions did you find most difficult? How are you feeling about your performance?

Because of how Blogger organizes threads, I suggest we start a different comment thread for each multiple choice question under discussion so that they stay separate. I.e., post "I had a lot of trouble with #98," and "Did anyone else get 'Dank Siege Rhino Memes' for #86?" as separate comments. And if somebody's already started talking about #98, reply to their comment instead of starting a new thread.

172 comments:

  1. 75. You're designing a card with a converted mana cost of 10. Which of these card types is it least likely to be?

    I think this is a trick question. Enchantments have fewer cards at the cmc in question. BUT if you look at the trend for card types from cmc 5 onward, there is a clear trend of instants being the least populous type by half(ish) right up until the last data point.

    From a design perspective, I can see more design space at high costs for enchantments than instants.

    What are other peoples' thoughts?

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    1. I had the same reaction-- this is a tough call! Data:
      -Strictly at CMC 10 we have 1 enchantment, 0 instants.
      -At CMC 10+ we have 1 of each.
      -At CMC 9+ we have 1 enchantment, 4 instants.
      -At CMC 8+ we have 9 enchantments, 8 instants.

      So the data doesn't really make it clear which we should prefer. The design reason to avoid printing 10-mana instants is that you want to cast them right when you get to 10 mana, not hold onto them. The design reason to avoid printing 10-mana enchantments is that enchantments are unlikely to affect the board right away.

      In the end I went for instants.

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    2. The one 10+ cmc instant had Affinity and was intended for super artifact-heavy decks, too.

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    3. Instants for sure, I think. Not only are there less of them, but once an instant is costed that highly, there's very little reason for it to be an instant instead of a sorcery.

      Enchantments can have giant effects like Omniscience and whatever the Amonkhet one is called. Instants just don't scale as well.

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    4. I think instant. You don't usually want a ten mana effect as a surprise.

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    5. Yeah, Instant. Instants are best when their effects are surprising or reactive. A 10 cost spell is hard to cast and would want to be proactive as it's likely something you're actively ramping to cast.

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    6. I said instants too. My reasoning being that they trend towards instants with X as a cost over massive numbers. Easier to template with similar power.

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    7. I just scryfalled this one. There have been 10 mana cards of all those types EXCEPT instants (the only one is Commit//Memory via loophole)

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  2. Most difficult: 46 by far. I had it down to Lightning Bolt or Llanowar Elves. Elves is marginally less warping of Standard (though currently Play Design is down on both of them), but the fact that the question specified Llanowar Elves instead of Elvish Mystic really bothered me.

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    1. My rationale is the same as yours. Elvish Mystic makes specific decks very strong but Bolt invalidates a ton of creatures for the two years it's in Standard.

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    2. It was that distinction that made me choose Lightning Bolt, if it said Elvish Mystic I think it would have been a tougher choice.

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    3. Sam Stoddard had an article where he specifically talked about bringing Elvish Mystic vs. Lightning Bolt back into standard. he said Elvish Mystic was way more likely, basically, although it's not something they always want.

      The plural-and-setting issues of Llanowar Elves made me wonder, though.

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    4. Can you share that article, Carl? I searched pretty hard for anything like that yesterday.

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    5. Yeah, I found the Sam Stoddard article too. After that it was just a question of the power level vs. generic flavor tradeoff. I suspect this question was written by someone who didn't remember that Elvish Mystic existed.

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    6. https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/latest-developments/standard-power-level-2016-02-05

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    7. Dominaria better reprint Llanowar Elves, or Imma be peeved.

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    8. That occurred to me too. :-)

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    9. They reprinted lightning bolt when I thought they wouldn't, but now according to the wiki dominaria is 4 on the rabiah scale and lightning bolt is 8, so...

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    10. Llanowar elves is way more likely, especially among those cards. Plus look at this Dominaria art! http://78.media.tumblr.com/bbddb299faef7224029bd6aba5381782/tumblr_inline_ozkl5lOyVE1qhstyx_500.jpg

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    11. Those don't look like mana dorks...

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    12. My reasoning for this one is that Llanowar Elves isn't completely outclassing stuff in standard. They are avoided for the jump but the 2 mana elves always have something bonus to make them possibly better, whereas lightning strike is an uncommon in standard, so Bolt would have to be a rare for limited at least, and it is not a rare.

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    13. Honestly I just scaled these in order of when they got pulled from standard. One mana dorks only somewhat recently were cut. The rest were cut long ago. Lazy I know but it seem given Stoddard's article I was right.

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    14. Lightning Bolt coming back in those core sets was a format-shaping mistake. That ability literally cost 3 in a recent set and was still a top draft pick. Wake me when they functional reprint Llanowar Elves except with a 2G mana cost. I'll assume the name/plural issue was a miss by the question writer -- this test was written by the design team, not the creative team. I also sort of bet it's a sneaky preview of Llanowar Elves in Dominaria, since it's such an iconic card from that plane and since Rosewater loves such sneakiness (cf. Shriekhorn of course).

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    15. That art seems totally like llanowar elves, mostly because it features multiple elves in the art (odd for a modern creature). Also, none of the llanowar art has ever looked like a Mana dork. The Alpha art looks like some sort of Elf Borg.

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    16. I don't think it's the designer's job to worry about card names. If Creative wants Elvish Mystic instead of Llanowar Elves, they can change it.

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  3. The green creatue efficiency question really threw me. I picked "white's removal is better" but it felt like a trap.

    I came really close to getting the confusing multiplayer interaction question wrong too bc Miracle on the opponent's turn confused me specifically in the past.

    I also had a lot of trouble choosing between the untap ability and the Curiosity on Mysterio bc Curiosity just said "damage" and green has Seedborn Muse effects but I went with Curiosity based on the Mechanical Color Pie.

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    1. That one (#25) was hard for me too. All the answers felt like non sequiturs from the design side. I'm betting it was written by a development person and the correct answer was "white's removal is better".

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    2. I couldn't find any direct confirmation on this, but I do know they've (mostly) kept white from having card draw and have explicitly said that it's because white has such good answers that mixing the two would be problematic. I think great removal and best creatures would also be problematic, making white the unchallenged king of creature mirrors. I sort of like this question as a "deep thinking about the whys of design" question that you couldn't just look up. Assuming I'm right, of course... ;)

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  4. Starting a separate thread for 49 (multiplayer interaction confusing combo). Jeremy mentioned cycling and miracle as a tempting possibility (but not the final answer). A lot of the options have interesting interactions, but I think Myriad + Battalion is the clear right answer because it's a non-intuitive nonbo. Also because it's the only option that actually cares about multiplayer environments.

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    1. Cycling + Miracle might be a surprising interaction, but it's not a confusing one. A player can simply read the rules text of Miracle during the game and that should clear up the confusion.

      Myriad + Battalion has the weird 'attacking but didn't attack' distinction that's sure to be very confusing.

      Also, there are a few Battalion creatures (Legion Loyalist, Frontline Medic) where you sort of need to stack the triggers correctly to apply their effects to the Myriad creatures. That's less of a problem, but still something to consider.

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    2. I chose exploit and devour because the abilities are way too similar.

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    3. I thought the attacking thing was the one that was specifically confusing

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    4. I'm still not sure how myriad and battalion interact

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    5. Myriad creates tokens that are attacking, but since you didn't declare an attack with them, they don't trigger Battalion.

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    6. But with devour I believe you cannot respond and exploit you can, correct me if I am wrong. Two abilities that basically do the same thing, but behave differently is confusing. I feel Jeremy easily explained Battalion and Myriad, while remembering that Devour and Exploit behave differently and which does which may be more confusing. The Myriad option was the other option I was deciding between.

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    7. I said Exploit and Devour because it is harder to confirm what is happening with each trigger. Notably the question was talking about long term confusion. All of them could be shown once and established except for Exploit and Devour, which you need to make sure you say which creature you are sacrificing to which ability.

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    8. The big giveaway was they specified Multiplayer. That and googling "Myriad and battalion" gives you several forum threads I am pretty sure inspired the question

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    9. Another one I missed and totally shouldn't have. Cycling/Miracle seemed the obvious choice to me since drawing cards at strange times can easily make you miss your Miracle trigger, or think it should trigger when it shouldn't. The multiplayer cue was a giveaway I shouldn't have ignored.

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  5. Starting a separate thread for #17 (Mysterio's added ability). Jeremy and I both had trouble choosing between "untap at end of turn" and the Curiosity effect. I could find literally no precedent for "untap at end of turn" but similar things (e.g. untap on attack) seem to show up at primary in white, secondary in blue and green. Curiosity is the more straightforwardly blue-green ability, though the fact that it used the old-style wording (not specifying combat damage) threw me a little.

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    1. The ability is more or less Vigilance and hence not blue. I went for Curiosity as well.

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    2. Mechanical Color Pie lists "untaps itself" as primary blue and secondary white, so it would be a color bleed to a U/G hybrid creature.

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    3. The card draw ability makes way more sense.

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    4. ala mechanical pie, blue usually gets untap when it gets tap. Green only gets untapping creatures on spells to promote creature interactions.

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    5. All of the other abilities are Green and Blue so the last one should be too in my opinion, the only one of those was Curiosity.

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    6. This is my other pick for a potential eeevil trick question. Like, why didn't it say combat damage? WHY DIDN'T IT SAY COMBAT DAMAGE? Giving a green creature the ability to draw cards not keyed to combat damage, if it gains a ping ability or something.... They could say "hey, you know, not tying it to combat damage is out of color for green, but the untap is in blue's color pie and is, in this case, functionally equivalent to vigilance, which is in green's pie, so.... that's the winner." I hope not; I picked the "draw on damage" ability and DM'ed Mark Rosewater asking if it was a typo (got no reply). But.... weirdness makes me uncomfortable.

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    7. Ouch. Yeah, I just missed it wasn't combat damage because it obviously should be.

      I hate those questions where you don't know which bit is the question and which bit is a typo.

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    8. They still print plenty of curiosity abilities without specifying "combat damage", oddly enough.

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    9. Research:

      Most of the examples of "deals damage" [not "combat damage"] are really old and/or Time Spiral: Looter il-Kor, Ophidian Eye, Curiosity/Keen Sense, Shocker, Barbed Shocker, Snake Umbra, Tandem Lookout, Niv Mizzet Dracogenius (ping ability so this doesn't really count), Vedalken Heretic (maybe the single best counterexample I can find to support skipping "combat")... Exactly zero of them aside from the gold Vedalken Heretic are green creatures (green enchantments might go on red creatures that ping, so I think this is different).

      The other 80% of Curiosity creatures key on "combat damage" -- including virtually every newer card and virtually every green creature.

      I'm still going with the Curiosity ability here, but I'd be nervous.

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    10. Oh, you're right- I was searching for "combat damage to an opponent" and not "to a player" and hence had the ratio wrong. I agree, that is nerve-wracking.

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  6. I made a video going over each of my answers and why:

    https://youtu.be/TK1QsKyZ27Y

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    1. This is a very neat way to talk through your answers. Did you rewatch before submitting?

      From the portion I watched, I think we disagree on #2 and #25.

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  7. I said "to make the cards different" on #72, based on reading http://dtwtranscripts.blogspot.com/2013/07/3813-episode-24-mana-system.html (revelant part starts about 6 paragraphs down). But apparently a lot of people went for "play them later". Anyone else have trouble with that one? Any insights?

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    1. I can make a three-mana and four-mana Naturalize, and those are different cards. What has that done for the game?

      Apart from the color pie, the most important thing about the mana system is that you can play the strongest spells, but not until later in the game.

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    2. I'm 50/50 on this answer still, but there ARE examples. Aven Battle Priest vs Aven of Enduring Hope.

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    3. I'm with Jay on this. Expensive spells are meant to be played later. They usually don't change the cost on cards just because they can.

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    4. I agonized over this one because my usual way to deal with these is to work through the counterfactuals - and from first principles, Magic would be a terrible game if all the cards cost the same! From that perspective, “making the cards different” seemed pretty important. I chose “play them later” too, but took a while doing so.

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    5. I wasn't interpreting the question as "make the cards different" as "same text box, different cost". I was interpreting it as "able to print both Runeclaw Bears and Cowl Prowler by giving them different mana costs".

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    6. The timing element of the mana system is the single most important part of the mana cost. To the point you could make a pretty functiomh variant of mtg with say a Duelmasters or Hearthstone style mana set up, but being able to drop late game threats on turn 2 just makes the whole game fall apart.

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    7. I agree it's fundamental to Magic. Epic does without it pretty well, but it's a very different game.

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    8. I'm pretty sure I read in one of Sam's articles that moving to five mana wraths have aggro decks more time. I think yeah of course making the cost different makes them different, but the reason why is specifically so they're cast later in the game. Wizards is fine with reprinting cards if that's the effect and cost they need.

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  8. For question 53, did anyone else feel like ALL the changes to Junkpile Engineer were arbitrary? I went with the same one Jay did for the treasure token/clue token reasoning, but spent a lot of time looking for a trick in the wording. I considered the graveyard one for a while thinking that maybe sacrificing suggested a graveyard theme. I also considered haste from the standpoint of this barely being a Rare and maybe needing a flavorful power bump! I dunno, nothing seemed “wrong” except the overpowered put-an-artifact-into-play ability, which made me check 1000 times whether the question didn’t say “which one WOULDN’T” we do. I wasn’t confident here at all.

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    1. There wasn't anything super important to "fix", if that's what you're asking. Going to GY is a small simplicity improvement and ignoring CMC is a bigger one. The others serve no purpose.

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    2. I chose the same. For me, the "trick" was that making the engineer tap to activate its ability wasn't an option. So that told me it's not an accident and they actually want players to be able to activate it multiple times with sac outlets. And in red-blue, that's artifact token decks. Setting a flat outcome rather the CMC is more likely to have the card work they way they seem to intend.

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    3. I almost made it go to grave because wotc says they dislike shuffling but scryfall shows most effects like this shuffle to bottom, they all seemed random but cutting the X seemed like the most reasonable way to polish the design and simplify building the set around it.

      The nonbo with tokens was a very good point that I missed .

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    4. Placing on bottom doesn't require the player to shuffle. It was odd that it specified a random order, but I guess that's because you could theoretically be looking at the top 12 and that's a lot of cards to reorder.

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    5. It may be just me, but "placing to the bottom in a random order" basically means "shuffle those cards amd put your deck on top of them" right?

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    6. I threw out the 'going to graveyard' on the basis that the cards aren't revealed, so this was likely a wrong answer that didn't get updated after the question was tweaked internally. Putting artifacts into play makes this thing a tinker on a stick, that's way out of power level in my opinion. The two small tweaks are play design, not set design.

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    7. Fixed number seems like a great fix for Tokens and the fact that the x in that ability is really awkward starting about x=5.

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    8. I said set the P/T to one another as that fits in closer to most UR artificers (more or equal toughness to power in general).

      My issue with it is that the card never says Reveal! With the 3rd option nothing would change on the card as nothing is revealed, which means what is actually being changed?

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    9. I went with to-the-graveyard, with the expectation that pairing the scry to CMC allowed players to think "wow, I could scry so much!" and get excited, as well as make an overlap between a graveyard archetype and artifact archetype in the set. But that probably does pale compared to "can make any token a super-clue" as far as exciting if the N was locked. So I may be quite wrong.

      The idea that it was Set Design rather than Play Design somehow hinted to me that this is in the "adding more themes" stage rather than "simplifying things to reduce comprehension issues" stage, telling me "go to graveyard" over "square the power&toughness".

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    10. I went with going to the graveyard. I think the clue was in the Set Design in the question. While its equally likely that setting the number to be flat in an environment with token artifacts, I just feel like graveyard interactions are a more common environmental interaction that Set Design is going to pay attention to.

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    11. I went with fixed number, since I had the card as uncommon.

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    12. There are only a handful of cards in all of magic that look at the top X cards of your library and do something with a set number of them. The rest hem and haw with 'may' and 'any' and 'each'

      For the remaining ones, several have card specific rulings about what to do when X is 0. The rest usually take pains to avoid X being 0. I can't find in the comprehensive rules anywhere about how these cards actually work - I would extrapolate from searching a zone with insufficient numbers, but I can't find anything about choosing x from less than x when you aren't searching. Changing the value to a set number avoids this 'null reference' confusion.

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    13. Good point Noah. That makes me feel much more confident about "look at fixed number" being the intended answer.

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  9. For question 28, I read Jay's explanation but I was trying to take the statement from the first line into account...and I picked black-green.

    A 4/4 flyer with vigilance is Serra Angel, which is done in white all the time. Almost every white/blue creature with flying and vigilance has other abilities or is very old. Any other thoughts?

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    1. Forgot to add, Vigilance is secondary in green and flying is secondary in black.

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    2. The question said they try not to make a gold card that could just be monocolored with one of its colors.

      That is, they wont make a Wx Serra Angel because Serra Angel is mono white. People would rightfully ask "Why is this gold, its just serra angel?"

      So remove all the White golds and BG and UB are the only ones left.UB CANT get vigilance so BG is the only right answer.

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    3. I stared at that question and feel like knowing magic's history actually increased the likelihood of getting it wrong. I went with W/U as well, but I did consider BG. One thing I did notice is that the color pie indicated that they generally don't put vigilance on white creature with toughness above 3 anymore, but blue does get larger flyers, so I convinced myself it was the 4/4 of the creature that blue was contributing. Which is an absurd thing to thing (especially because white has a 2/5 creature with flying in the current set).

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    4. I meant 2/5 with vigilance.

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    5. If you do a search there is only one gold serea angel in the game and that was before even vigilance was keyworded.

      The Mantis Rider/Lightning Angels are close but thats why I belive they specified two colored as they get a bit flippant with tricolor golds (which I dislike a lot of for that very reason)

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    6. A 3BG Serra Angel would be sweet

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    7. I was gonna say ... I dare WotC to actually print a BG flier with vigilance.

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    8. Gaurdian Hornet 4BG R
      Flying,Deathtouch, Vigilance
      3/5

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    9. I'm half expecting this to be a truly evil trick question where they go "btw Serra Angel and its ilk are all now out of color pie and you were supposed to know this since Mechanical Color Pie 2017 doesn't put vigilance on white creatures with power>3; since this isn't white any more, the answer was GW." I mean, I hope not, but.... GB and using two secondaries and no primaries seems weird, and the question just feels primed to be eeeeeevil.

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    10. I went GB, but KingRitz what you say has the auspices of truth about it.

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    11. Double secondary cards have been done before. Flying, Lifelink in black for example or Vigilance and deathtouch in green.

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    12. Yeah but gold cards hold abilities to a higher standard. Like, for instance, Tertiaries are outright forbidden as a color's contribution to gold cards. Can anyone think of a gold card where each color contributes just secondaries -- no color contributes a single primary?

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    13. This was one of the questions I was the least sure on. I said GW, on the reasoning that CMC isn't mentioned, and being large and undercosted could be a green contribution. What I mean is, 2GW 4/4 flying vigilance would be a card that neither color could get on its own. WU is a gold card that works in color pie but doesn't fit the "given that" part, BG would feel strange as per KingRitz's comments. Very curious to see what the official answer turns out to be.

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    14. Shit. I didn't even think about it costing less than Serra Angel, at 2GW. White definitely can't get Serra Angel at 4 CMC... UW probably can't either, given the issue with vigilance not really going on large white creatures these days (exception: kitchen sink creatures, which often get color bends to have enough abilities)... but GW *can* get Serra Angel for 4 mana. Ugh. I am now really leaning to the idea that the answer here is GW.

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    15. @KingRits - Not really (maybe Mournwillow?), but can you think of a gold card where all abilities could be contributed from a single color? They wouldn't really do either of these things, but the question says "given that...", so it only makes sense to consider the leading sentence.

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    16. Sage, see my reply right above yours. I don't think 4CMC Serra Angel can be done in mono-white, especially as Vigilance on 4+ power creatures isn't such a white thing these days... but it can be done in GW. To answer your question, Watchwolf (gold only brings cost reduction but it couldn't be done in either color at this CMC, Treasure Find (can be done at higher cost in green), Aven Wind Guide (and several other UW fliers), and I'm sure with time I'll think of other examples.

      Mournwillow is a good try. Arguably G and B are primary in delirium, and the fact that they *both* bring haste and some forms of evasion (and this is a fairly unique and therefore colorpie-ambiguous evasion ability).... it's not a perfect comp, but I grant it's a decent one.

      Hey, I went with GB too, despite some misgivings. But now I'm getting convinced this was as close to a trick question and we had on the test.

      By the way, I think the first sentence mostly (1) serves to mislead people into GB and (2) rules out UW, since blue would contribute nothing, including cost reduction/size increase on the creature.

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    17. Renegade Rallier's Reanimation is secondary in both G and W is one that comes to mind.

      But in any case both Primary and Secondary show up at common ans are used for Hybrid, why would you consider a double secondary gold odd?

      I mean would a Gruul Dragon with Flying amd Hexproof seem off to you?

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    18. In any case I am incredibly sure its GB. Opening with "Dont do golds that could be in pie even if we cut a color" factor is what they start the sentence with and what leads the question.

      Theres only been a single UW Serra Angel and that was before Vigilance had a keyword. Every gold Flying,Vigilance with white in it since then has something to justify the goldness. Bg is the best answer.

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    19. Renegade Rallier is a good call. Gruul Dragon... a little weird on the hexproof, yeah.

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    20. I hope you guys are right. I picked GB too, after all.

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    21. I also say GB. Strong suspicion that the first sentence was added to the question after everyone in R&D got it wrong the first time.

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    22. I don't think they always stick to that principle, but given it was in the question I could see what they meant (after a lot of thinking).

      I mean, sometimes there's a big two colour vanilla creature.

      I guess what they sometimes avoid is something that fits better in one colour, like this wouldn't be green white because it wouldn't really be getting vigilance from G. And maybe it shouldn't be UW but it often is.

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    23. FWIW, I can totally see a 4cc mono-white Serra Angel at rare. They've made more powerful 4-power 4-drop angels.

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    24. Jay, I'd like your opinion on this, then (legit question):

      What color or, more likely, pair of two colors, can get the cheapest Serra Angel (4/4 Flying Vigilance no other abilities)? If mono-white can get it for 4 (2WW? 1WWW?), then can anyone get it for CMC 3? WWW at rare/mythic? Or maybe GWW or UWW or something? Or is 4 the limit? I'm sure 2 is right out, since that's double-much-better Serra Avenger.

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    25. I think 4 is the limit if we're not putting anything else in there.

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    26. I'd also like to point our a two color serra angel in white is unlikley. Notice how every Gold Flying,Vigilance has had an extra effect added on (except for one from before vigilance was keyworded)

      A gold serra would be BG RG or UG.

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    27. RG Serra would be really weird, since red usually gets flying on its iconics only. UG would be much more natural than BG, but that's part of what made the question hard.

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    28. I said GW under the assumption that both colors gain vigilance but green is rare in fliers but would be adequate for flying because of creatures like Sigarda. It's the third most popular answer wayyy behind the other two so I hope I'm right but I'm not super convinced I'm right.

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    29. I went back and forth a bit but after the first sentence, I felt they were clearly looking for BG.

      I still think that's true, but after the test, I went fishing in gatherer and if so, the detractors seem to have a stronger case than the question itself.

      In theory, WG creatures can have flying plus a green keyword. But they never do. Almost ever. The entire stable of GW flying seems to be: several cycles of angels or dragons where the whole cycle has flying; one planechase rare; three pre-modern cards. Vigilance doesn't arise, they don't seem to do GW flying at all. I think that's less than RG flying.

      And conversely, flying vigilance creature are several WU and no BG.

      Or did I screw up the search? I do that a lot. If so, disregard.

      This does seem to be a "know what we say, not what we do" question (unless I'm wrong about the answer) :)

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  10. Do we know when grades/cutdown come?

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  11. Ugh. I don't know if I can really talk about this until I know how I did. I tried reading Jay's pieces and immediately started to feel super anxious. I'll be back after scores. Longer if I didn't pass.

    Thanks for all the support and brain-power ya'll have put into this. I wouldn't be half the Designer I am if I hadn't stumbled on this blog in College.

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    1. We're all feeling pretty anxious right now.
      Hang in there.

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    2. Not doing well in GDS2 was really rough for me. I basically checked out Magic for the remainder of the contest and a bit after that.

      Just remember: You can always design games, no matter what. Wizards isn't the only company, it's not even the best company. You also don't even need to work for a company to get your ideas to the table. There's so many companies out there that have meaningful, interesting work that don't involve a 3000 person application pool and multiple rounds of realistically arbitrary tests for an internship.

      That's not to say to not get your hopes up, the job is exciting and I think everyone here would really enjoy it. Just that not getting it is not an indicator of your creativity or knowledge as much as luck. And it's not the end all of game design jobs. There are lots of great opportunities out there

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    3. Indeed.
      Making the finals of GDS2 and screwing it up propelled me into making other games, and there's so much more freedom for expression and exploration out here.

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  12. Best guess after looking through all the consensus answers: I think I missed two questions. I probably missed the "most important thing to do with Commander decks" (I said balance colors, but was probably wrong), and I think I missed the rarity of the "sacrifice artifact, impulse" guy (for some bizarre reason I thought it could be uncommon, comparing it to some build-around uncommon artifact sacrificing enchantments; you're right that the repeated draw would be too much of an engine). I stand by my answers on other disagreements (Llanowar Elves, Vigilant Flier is BG, etc.), but maybe I missed one or two more. So... 71 to 73 right, most likely? I sure hope that's good enough!

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    1. If color balance was the most important tbing we woukdnt have gotten all those articles for c17 about how they were moving away from being hung up on color balance.


      But great score anyway, see you in the top 100 pal!

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    2. Thanks but don't count my chickens for me just yet. I think I missed the Vigilant Flier too, having come around to the idea it should be GW. And who knows what other "probably rights" I got wrong. I'll hold my breath the next few days, just like everyone else.

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    3. I'm still pretty confident that artifact -> draw is a buildaround uncommon.

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    4. Me too. U/X uncommons especially can draw lots of cards over the course of several turns.

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  13. After reading everything, I'm certain that I did much better on the test than I would have a year ago but still probably got too many wrong answers and am expecting to get bounced. (The dumbest mistake was completely missing the impact of switching out haste on the threaten spell in Question 6)

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    1. I 100% missed that question. Everyone's going to get tripped up somewhere.

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  14. I was sure the answer for 44 was change the effect so it comes into play at end of turn but someone pointed out that R&D doesn't like to mix those with conventional flicker effects, so now I'm thinking twice about it. That said, three of the answers were bad and white creatures don't ETB tapped, so I don't know what else it would be.

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    1. Not sure what you mean by mixing them with conventional flicker effects? We have some delayed flicker currently in Standard with Angel of Condemnation and Vizier of Deferment.

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    2. I went with etb tapped, just because it specified "late in design" and that was literally the least impactful way to stop the combo. The card was there for revolt shenanigans, which are a lot less impactful if the creature slow-blinks.

      That said, I was 51% for etbt and 49% for slow blink.

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    3. My main issue with ETBT is that it's sort of super-weird on a white creature, right? Like, what white creatures do that?

      I'll help: Gatherer says that the answer (singular) is Magus of the Disk. A weird Time Spiral card as the only example in history isn't exactly the best precedent. Conclusion: having its creatures ETB tapped is outright not in white's color pie.

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    4. And Magus of the Disk only does it because it's the creature version of Nevinyrral's Disk. Plus you can still make infinite tokens with those cards, so there's some danger of a combo.

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    5. Not saying it's a thing that's been in white, I'm saying the card retrains its intended functionality (revolt enabler). I'm not at all convinced I chose right. That's one of two or three I agonized over for hours before settling in on my answer.

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    6. How does delaying the return mess up revolt? Revolt only cares about leaves play. The only time it messes with revolt is on a creature with an etb trigger that you absolutely need to blink before combat. That's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to avoid banning the card.

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    7. ETB tapped doesnt actually stop the infinite combo, you still get a bunch of cats you just cant attack with them. While thats less POWERFUL, the best answer would remove going infinite at all (since infinite cats is still abuseable with etb or sac effects)

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  15. 32. I picked "strongest not broken", thinking it was a true answer - you find the strongest reasonable option to impress the type of player that makes a Play Designer. I also assumed that if R&D wanted someone who was just going to ask Play Design to cost it for them, they wouldn't need us - a kind of "do your own work" idea.

    And yet- I now know it's wrong, and I should've known at the time, both from Maro talking about Pitching and my own personal experience: The way you get someone to like your (thing) is to get them to feel like they designed part of it. That's a Design lesson he's been clear about, and this question is testing just that. I hope the other chance-y ones break my way because I got this one wrong.

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    1. This was a very hard question with no good answers I felt like.

      I put "ask someone from play design" because that's what I would do at work. Better to ask for help than make a silent mistake. Same reason it felt better than "it doesn't matter; they'll fix the cost if you get it wrong."

      I liked your "Use your intuition" too but it felt like a red herring somehow.

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    2. I put "ask someone from play design" mostly because the idea that you should engage in some sort of absurd workplace mindgames with other teams you're supposed to be collaborating with seemed too awful to contemplate. Like, if that's NOT the correct answer, I'm not sure I want to work in that environment.

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    3. I believe Larcent is correct because there are lots of sources saying "We have a Development rep on all Design teams, and one of their jobs is to help cost things right."

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    4. I was lucky enough to dig up an old Maro article where he literally said he just would asks developers what something should cost.

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  16. Wow. On the one hand, I'm pretty sure at this point that I scored above 70. On the other hand, it seems like most of the other people here did too. Either we're an elite group (top 10% or less of people who took the test), or the cutoff is going to be very harsh.

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    1. We're kind of a niche site. We don't have a lot of the visibility of other amateur design spots, but I definitely think we're the Cream of the Crop.

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    2. Well the cut off is going to be the top 3% or so so yeah,it shluld be elite. The design test will be suprt make or break.

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    3. I believe both of those to be true.

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  17. 35 Assuming the creature is strong enough to see Standard play, which of the following isn't a good quality for a creature to have?

    I put "draws multiple cards without attacking or blocking". But at the same time so many green standouts have done that - Tireless Tracker, Courser of Kruphix. Or even Ripjaw Raptor!

    The other answer that was close for me was "it uses "+1/+1 counters to grow to very large sizes". I feel like Longtusk Cub has been a bit too powerful. But it didn't specify cheap Mana cost so I figured it was more acceptable?

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    1. Longtusk Cub, Deeproot Elite, Verderous Gearhulk, etc. are all evidence that they don't mind using +1/+1 counters and making them strong. Tracker and Courser were format-warping powerhouses and I don't think they are examples of good design.

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    2. Especially as mono-green cards, Courser and Tracker are offbase. Ripjaw Raptor at least looks like it needs to attack and block, even if it isn't always the case.

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    3. Remember also that the largest chunk of these questions were most likely written by a color pie purist (MR) who considers Lignify, Song of the Dryads, Beast Within, etc. to be color pie breaks and design mistakes. I expect this question is similarly purist about green card draw.

      HOWEVER, the biggest counterexamples, and the most concerning, are green creatures that draw when a creature is cast or ETB -- Garruk's Packleader, Primordial Sage, etc...

      I agree that this question is concerning, but I think all the other answer choices were bad.

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    4. Those cards are dangerous to be pushed. You risk printing something like Glimpse of Nature.

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    5. I like drawing multiple cards without attaacking or blocking. whenever a green card has done so the reason why this is concerning becomes apparent. tireless tracker, jadelight ranger

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  18. I'm interested in people's thoughts on #2.

    Common or Uncommon? If Common, isn't it larger for a red creature? If Uncommon, isn't it odd that the test doesn't have any common designs on it at all?

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    1. I went with uncommon. I thought the combo of the size along with a skill that gave it evasion and a skill that caused it to get extra value from combat tricks was just too much for common. Remove any one of those things and I could see it potentially as common.

      And I could see set designs where it could work as common and not be too powerful in limited formats, but since we don't have that information, I went with common.

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    2. The test isn't obliged to have one of each rarity. In fact, if we were able to assume that there would be one of each rarity then the test would be less predictive because you would only have to answer 3 correctly and the 4th would be given to you freely because one rarity had not been used.

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    3. If I submitted this card to a design portion of the GDS at common, I would expect to be called out for it. Despite red getting better-than-craw-wurms at common fairly often in actual practice, Maro personally tends to say that red doesn't get that big at common. Together, as well as the card itself, that tells me uncommon's the answer for the test.

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    4. I went for common, based on Granitic Titan and Gastaf Arsonists. I also had the impression that double-keyword uncommons were supposed to be more pushed than this (e.g. Gifted Aetherborn, Charging Monstrosaur). But I hadn't fully considered the sizing issue or how hard it is to block profitably. Based on the discussions here I'm expecting that uncommon was the right answer.

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    5. Menace combined with Prowess is the big flag here. Menace forces double blocks, which makes prowess lead to more much worse blowouts. If the two abilities didn't work so well together, it MIGHT be able to pass off as a common.

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    6. Maybe! But they've been willing to pair prowess with evasion in the past, and prowess always has the potential to be a blowout regardless. Riverwheel Aerialists is another good precedent for common.

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    7. Riverwheel Aerialists was an uncommon in Khans of Tarkir. It only showed up at common in a Masters set.

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  19. I was really confused at the wording of question 41 and what it was actually asking and I'm pretty sure I answered differently from everybody else and am probably wrong.

    That's the "Which of the following are not generally aimed at competitive standard play?" question. I was very confused at what we are talking about by saying "generally aimed" here. My interpretation of the question is that they were talking about how much care went into balancing and designing (or reprinting) the card with the knowledge that it is intended for competitive play.

    So I ended up going with mass creature kill. It's not because I thought it was less likely to see competitive play, but because these spells are typically pretty straightforward for standard and to the extent they needed to be "aimed" they'd be thinking of multiplayer formats.

    But I noticed others have gone with one-shot mana acceleration. I actually crossed that one off quickly because of my interpretation of the question itself. They would be extremely cautious in how they put one-mana acceleration into the game with the standard competitive environment in mind.

    So I'm just confused about what the question was actually asking.

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    1. That question is super ambiguous, agreed.

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    2. "Aimed" is a term they use ehen they want something played or not played in a format. So I kinda just looked at all those efffects and saw they were all standard staples except for rituals (then I remembet how OP rituals got)

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    3. Yeah, I agree with Jim. "Aimed at [format]" means they're tuning it for competitive play in that format.

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    4. Okay, so if I'm understanding you all, what you're saying is that they've deliberately designed one-shot mana acceleration so that it's generally NOT standard-worthy because of its potential for abuse.

      Man, that was one horribly written question.

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    5. Yes you're exactly correct. Draw Spells, Wraths and Counterspells are almost always standard playable (I cant recall a standard without at least one of each that was playable) but Rituals are a FAR more scarce occurance.

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  20. Gavin's 2017 article on Commander was called out on Twitter as a reason for the Commander question's answer to be 'brand new theme.' Gavin replied to the tweet with a smiley face.

    While this in no way confirms it, it makes me much more confident in that answer now than it did before.

    I definitely got the Play Design costing question wrong, and I put down bolt instead of elves, which I think was wrong as well. That makes my optimistic score a 73, but I could see it falling all the way down to 70, which I'm afraid won't make the cut. It seems a lot more competitive this time around and I feel that the cut will be around 71-72.

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    1. Regarding Gavin's C17 article:

      He talks about the product having a new theme, not each deck, which is what the question asks. You can argue dragon/cat/etc are each their own sub-theme on the arch-theme, but that doesn't apply to older Commander products as well.

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    2. That was my concern as well, but the question is explicitly forward looking. You are working on the NEXT commander products, which means that Wizards has officially shifted their approach from Color-based products to theme based products for Commander. I don't think looking at prior years is appropriate for this question.


      Gavin's tweet in response to this very question is the main thing I wanted to draw attention to. Again, it could mean nothing.

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    3. Hm, I didn't think I had gotten that one wrong at all until now but I'll admit I don't know much about Commander. I based my answer (encourages people to build decks) on something Mark Rosewater said in "Word of Commander" (2011):

      "The deckbuilding is a major part of what gives the format its identity. It's much more restrictive than most formats, but therein lies its charm. I often talk about how restrictions breed creativity, and Commander is the perfect example. Because the format asks much more of the deckbuilder than a traditional format, I believe that it helps bond the player with the deck right from the start, before the playing even begins."

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    4. It's possible that new theme is the correct answer, but I hope not as a fan. I don't just want cards that happen to slot perfectly into my existing decks, I want a deck (and commander) that makes me want to build a new deck. To boil it down, I think Commander products could be successful even when they rehash old stuff. I don't think they could be successful without printing unique new commanders each year.

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  21. Cutoff is 73/75 with 94 making it. Good luck guys :/

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  22. Oh god, 73/75? That's insane. I probably missed by 1 or 2. Given the level of uncertainty on some of these questions, I can say that there is ZERO statistical validity to this cutoff, and it's basically as good a judgment of design talent as if they had held a lottery. Good luck to those who make it, but I'm a bit miffed that this isn't a very fair way for them to have handled this.

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    1. Agreed, 73/75 is not a reasonable cutoff. With an applicant pool of 3000, they really needed more hard questions to meaningfully cut to 100.

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    2. Basically, there were like 5 or 6 really really difficult and questionable problems that we smart design-oriented people are *still* debating, and that's it. And you're going to slice people up on that basis? Really not okay. If one of us ultimately makes it in there, I hope you'll let them know very clearly that they need to handle this differently in the future. Give people a real, legitimate shot. Or, hell, at least be honest that above a minimum threshold it's just a lottery.

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    3. I don't mind the really difficult and questionable problems. If there had been 20 on the test instead of 5, it could have been a fair and effective way to sort people. What bothers me is the difficulty curve. To get below 60 or so you really had to not know what you were doing (by our standards). All the variance was packed into the top 5-ish where it's mostly noise anyway.

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    4. No, Ipaulsen, I'm agreeing with you. I'm not bothered that there were 5 hard ones. I'm bothered that there were ONLY like 5 hard ones, and you're slicing people up based on that. Like you said, the noise swamps the signal.

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    5. Slightly in WotC's defense: When I was applying for college, someone told me that the elite schools got several times more totally qualified applicants than they could actually take, and beyond that the selection might as well random-- basically it depended on what the admissions people had for lunch that day. Something similar is going on here. Anyone who scored 70+ on that test definitely knows what they're doing, and beyond that it would have been very hard for them to get good signal from multiple choice.

      But it sucks more for us, because (1) we can't improve our chances by applying to more than one place, and (2) after all that, they're just going to screen the applicants further anyway, which kind of defeats the purpose.

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    6. @KingRitz-- I see what you were saying now. Sorry I misunderstood you.

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    7. There are a few other places an aspiring CCG designer could apply.

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    8. Ouch. Yeah. On the one hand, to get a decent top hundred, you ideally have more questions that matter, so "actually knowing stuff" swamps "did you get lucky". The test is lot better than previous competitions, but still not really perfect. And ideally, actually hard questions, not "guess what we meant" hard questions.

      But on the other hand, anyone who did better than about 70 probably has a similar chance of being a good designer. If they picked 100 from 70+ scores randomly, and looked for the best essays amongst those, that would be very nearly as good. It's not as fair, because you can't improve your chances by being very dedicated, but it's as effective. What really sucks is that so many people are eager and there's not a place for them -- the unfairness of the test, while aggravating, doesn't make that much difference.

      And in truth, some of the good designers here, while I'd love to see their take on a magic set, I'd almost just as much like to see some new game they designed.

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  23. For reference, here are Mark Rosewater's answers and justifications.
    Make a Choice,
    Part 1

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