Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Midnight Hour is Close At Hand: Designing Around Amass

War of the Spark’s Limited format is strangely built, even accounting for the various deviations non-core sets take away from the “normal” Limited experience. Part of it, and the most visible part, is the huge number of planeswalkers, which requires planeswalker removal to be printed at common and makes Stealth Missioninto a kill spell. But a larger part of the puzzle is how Amass warped the environment into making a go-tall strategy reliant on a single token a decent value proposition every time.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Eternal Analysis 017—Shift

Shift is Eternal's suspend mechanic, simplified in some ways and… weird in others. Introduced in the sixth full set, Dark Frontier, along with Onslaught, and Twist.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Robin & BYO Draft

Whenever I go to reference this post, I have trouble finding it on GA… because that's not where it was. It was on CoolStuffInc. So I'm reposting this 8 year old article here. With the author credit returned. And edited for modern pronouns.

Monday, May 20, 2019

At What Price Variance?

Unpopular opinion: Mana screw is bad.

The number of non-games that Magic’s core system regularly produces would seem to indicate that most players would get frustrated with the game and leave. Yet, Magic has one of the highest player retention rates of any game invented in the past 50 years. Why is that?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

CCDD 050719 - Avatar of Order

I was thinking about oozes, like you do, and how about they fit nicely into almost every color. Blue plays up their fluidity and ooziness, black and green represent their relentless hungry nature and mindless predator theme, and red plays up their chaotic nature. But white doesn't really make sense for an ooze. White is the color of order, of structure, something antithetical to being an ooze.

Unless you're a gelatinous cube.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

CCDD 050619 - Reclaiming Namespace (Blaze of Glory)

A pet project of many amateur (and professional) designers is to ruminate on what Alpha would look like if it were being designed today for the first time. It's definitely a fun exercise, but honestly, if you look at the cards in Alpha, so many of them are just so near perfect. They legitimately set the game up to last over 25 years, and the quality shows.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Announcement: Mermay 2019

Just wanted to put out here that, similar to my annual Goblin Game, I'm running a month long MerMay Merfolk Game over on Twitter during May. Here's where you can find it:

That's it. CCDDs return tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Friday, April 26, 2019

Weekend Design Challenge 042619 - Black Spring

Hello hello Artisans! After something of a hiatus, I think we're ready to start doing weekend design challenges again. Click through to see this weekend's design parameters. With those as your guidelines, design one (1) custom magic card. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs, and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. If I have time over the course of next week, I will try to offer some of my own feedback.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

CCDD 042519 - Charismatic and Vengeful Leaders

So a project I've been working on (off and on) is an X-Men/Kaladesh fanfic mashup non-set. Currently, I'm trying to crank out a handful of mechanics and keywords to give some better focus to my commons, and one of the ones I'm tinkering with is this.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

CCDD 042419 - Binding Contract

I was thinking about guilds, and law magic, and thought about what a magically binding contract might look like. So here's an Azorius uncommon that I think is very very Azorius, and something Jenny would love to abuse.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

CCDD 042319 - Some Planeswalkers of Assorted Rarities

Now that War previews are over, everyone has Planeswalkers on the brain. Here's a few random ones.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

CCDD 032119 - Clever Disguise and Big Boo

Today is Purim, a Jewish holiday during which we tend to dress up in costumes and disguises. Magic has tackled disguises and such before, but I was a little surprised that this card doesn't already exist.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Can Planeswalkers Be Signposts?

Please enjoy this guest post from Larcent. —Jay Treat

War of the Spark is going to be bringing Magic players a flood of planeswalker cards, all at the same time. The final set in this latest trip to Ravnica will feature 36 planeswalkers, and each pack is guaranteed to have at least one.

There is going to be a lot to learn about planeswalker design after War of the Spark comes out and we see it all in action. The power levels are going to likely be lower, many of them designed to be rares or uncommons.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

GDS Reflections: How Custom Magic Cards Helped Me Publish a Book

By Scott Wilson

Hey there, I'm Scott Wilson from the top four of last year's Great Designer Search 3. You might remember my lukewarm Samurai cards, lukewarm Ancestry mechanic, and lukewarm Innistrad designs.

But hey, at least I'll always have Circus Peanuts.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lenses for Friends: Making Mechanics Interesting

Last time in Lenses for Friends, we introduced the lenses of gameplay and experience. Today, we're introducing the lens of interest, and sharing a story about helping a friend with it. I've seen more designers struggle with this lens than any other.

Also: check out Episodes 59 and 60 of the Beacon of Creation custom Magic design podcast, to see these lenses used in action. I made a guest appearance helping Bradley RoseAdam Victor Klesh, and Juliet Louis with their community set, Castmire!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Lenses for Friends: Making Mechanics Play Well and Tell Stories

As some may know, I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the Beacon of Creation custom Magic design podcast, discussing their community designed set Castmire with Bradley Rose and Adam Victor Klesh. On that podcast, I mentioned something I called "mechanical lenses", which I use to evaluate the mechanics of game designs, especially for custom Magic design. Today, I'd like to begin a series where I formally introduce these mechanical lenses, by telling some stories about how I've used them to help fellow designers with their design troubles. In this part, we'll introduce two lenses which most designers think they're very familiar with already...

Friday, February 15, 2019

Weekend Design Challenge 021519 - Out-of-Guild Ravnica Keywords II

Hey Artisans. Click through to see the requirements for this weekend's design challenge, due Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, so once you've got your great idea down, give some thoughtful critique to some of your peers. Revise your submission any number of times, and, time permitting, I'll review the most recent submission from each designer.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

CCDD 021419 - Some More More Interesting Slivers (Part 2)

Yesterday I showed off some more off-beat sliver designs for white, blue and black. Today I'll cover red and green, and maybe talk about some more color interactions.

For those looking for Valentines Day content, rest assured that Slivers are very near and dear to my heart.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

CCDD 021319 - Some More Interesting Slivers (Part 1)

Last week I gave myself the challenge of making a cycle of slivers that incorporated the five clan mechanics from Khans of Tarkir into their designs. I had fairly strict design parameters for myself - the mechanics had to be the Khans ones, not the Fate Reforged or Dragons of Tarkir ones. I wanted to get the execution as clean as I could, and not gunk up the individual slivers with additional rules beyond the core of the clan mechanic. Unfortunately, as Nich Grayson rightfully pointed out, this resulted in some relatively unexciting Sliver designs.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The 8 Kinds of Fun

Understanding our audience is one of the holiest grails of game design. Mark Rosewater's psychographics are famous in this community, but he's not the only one thinking about this. A couple years ago, BGG users will remember Quantic Foundry's motivation profile going around. There's the Bartle taxonomy of players types. And I recently encountered another older analysis called The 8 Kinds of Fun.

Here's the oldest post I've found about it, the firstest, and the bestest.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Weekend Design Challenge 020819 - Faction Ascendency

Hey, Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge, submissions due Monday morning. Every submission warrants feedback, so after you've come up with your idea, tell people what you like or dislike about theirs. Also listen to what they had to say about your card, and armed with that critique, revise your submission any number of times. I haven't been the best about reviewing recently, but I will attempt to review the most recent submission from each designer sometime at the beginning of next week.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Of Other Multiverses

By lpaulsen

Hi everyone! I'm Luke. I comment on Goblin Artisans as lpaulsen and occasionally post my own custom Magic design projects at

Here's a little known fact about me, though: I have a fictional alter ego who's a planeswalker.

CCDD 020719 - Slivers of Tarkir

It looks like I may have inadvertently backed myself into a tribal theme this week. Oops. Anyway, here's the very beginnings of an idea I had last night. May I present, the Slivers of Tarkir:

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

CCDD 020519 - Distortion Sentinel and Eldrazi Design Principles

Good morning, Artisans. I was thinking about Eldrazi today, so I decided to come up with one. Unfortunately, I've internalized a number of Eldrazi design principles, some of which I extrapolated from Rise/Battle for/Oath/Eldritch, some of which I just made up, but they do make our friendly unfathomable extraplaner weirdos difficult to make.

Monday, February 4, 2019

CCDD 020419 - Goblin Mail Carrier

So we did the Goblin Game a couple weeks ago on Twitter. The first round every year is to design a common Goblin, and this year I offered up this art:

Friday, February 1, 2019

Eternal Analysis 016—Spark

Spark is Eternal's bloodthirst/spectacle mechanic, opened up to do anything when your opponent has taken damage. What it does most often is suck.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Eternal Analysis 015—Endurance & Stun

Endurance is Eternal's vigilance, and stun is its super-tap, but their implementation and relationship are worth talking about.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Announcement: Goblin Game 2019

Hey Artisans. Tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 23) I'll be running my annual Goblin Game on Twitter. It'll kick off some time around noon EST, and run throughout the day. I'll try to tag Artisans whose twitter names I know, but look for #GobGame on twitter to get more info.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Eternal Analysis 014—Ambush and fast spells

Eternal avoided making Magic's mistake of taxonomically dividing sorceries and instants: They're all spells, but some are fast and some aren't. Then they dropped the ball.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Emperor's New Clothes & Activity Analysis

Years ago, just as KickStarter was realizing its potential in the board games market, a concept game full of blank components funded and I thought it was all a big joke. At XOXO 2018, I got to play it with its author, Jonathan H. Liu, a gamer so generous and trusting he lent out his game collection for the hundreds of strangers at the conference to borrow and play, unsupervised. Jonathan reviews game at GeekDad and, I now understand, is brilliant. As is the delightful Emperor's New Clothes.

The game comes with a scoring marker for each player and a score track, 10 cubes for each of the three resource types (dignity, gold, and gullibility), 13 role cards, a deck of action cards, three normal resource dice, and a fourth special resource die. Except they're all completely blank.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

What I've Learned from Guilds of Ravnica's Mechanics (Part 5)

Please enjoy the third in a series of five guest posts from Larcent about the mechanics of Guilds of Ravnica. —Jay Treat

Lesson Five: Undergrowth and identity vs. gameplay

Green and black decks are doing quite well in Standard right now and are even seeing high-end competitive Magic play. This makes it all the more interesting that the undergrowth mechanic landed with such a thud with players. There's very little of it to be found in these decks. There are cards from Guilds of Ravnica in these successful decks, though, and there's a lot to learn about why those made the cut and cards with undergrowth did not.