Friday, September 25, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 092520 - Randomizer

Hey Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

CCDD 092420 - Phyrexian Control Center

This is a lot more powerful than most cards that make token armies-- Birthing Boughs, say-- but it comes with a critical (and flavorful) weakness.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 091820 - Strixhaven MDFCs

Happy Friday, Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

CCDD 091820 - Over My Dead Body


Here's one for the "weird Spikey subgame" files (my favorite is still Zyym, Mesmeric Lord).

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

CCDD 091620 - Ajani, True Companion

There's no reason this had to be Ajani-- it's a very bottom-up design, inspired by cards like Serra Avatar and Touch of the Eternal-- but I think it fits his character. And it was easy to find art for, which is nice for planeswalker card renders.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Three Immutable Laws of Magic Design



One of Magic's defining features is its mutability. Every format and every set brings with it new opportunities for players to redefine the game. Mark Rosewater calls this process of constant renewal and discovery "Crispy Hashbrown Theory" and posits that it's one of Magic's core strengths. While I generally agree with this, I have two objections. The first is that hashbrowns aren't the best example of a breakfast food you get sick of partway through and that it should be called "Pancake Theory" instead. The second is that while constant change is the lifeblood of the game, Magic has a set of qualities that should never be changed, no matter how weird or experimental you're getting. These are the three immutable laws of Magic design.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 091120 - Kaldheim MDFCs


Hey Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

CCDD 090820 - Panpiper

There's nothing too innovative about today's design. I just happened to be looking at the tribute mechanic for some reason and wondered about putting more power into the modal part instead of the base creature.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

CCDD 090320 - Lightning Berserker

It always bothered me a little that there wasn't much point in blocking Ball Lightning. Absorbing a few points of damage isn't normally worth losing an X/2 or X/3 creature, so the Lightning was basically just a burn spell that could be "countered" by first strike or instant-speed removal. Eventually I decided to make a version that didn't have that problem.

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Great Redesigner Search: Circus

Welcome back to the Great Redesigner Search, a series where I redo all of my GDS3 entries. This week I'll be going over everything from round 2, the top-down challenge set on the circus plane of Bigtopia. Though I placed in 2nd, there were a lot of misses and room for improvement. As always, you can read my original entries and judge commentary here.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 08282020 - No Judge Free-For-All

Happy Friday, Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design parameters. With those as your guidelines, design a 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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

CCDD 082620 - Doomed Soulbinder

This is a Zombie tribal card-- kind of. My inspiration was roughly "Why is Zombie a creature type? It's just some other kind of creature that's been reanimated." That got me thinking about how to give non-Zombies some graveyard / Zombie synergies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

CCDD 082520 - Merfolk Dancer

Here's a Blind Phantasm modeling a weird idea for an ability word!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Weekend Art Design Challenge 20200821 - ZendikART Rising (2)

Happy Friday, Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design parameters. With those as your guidelines, design a 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, August 20, 2020

CCDD 08202020 - Krenko's Big Move

I had a long twitter conversation about the best Goblins last night, and that got me thinking about having a central Goblin villain in a story. Krenko is the closest existing contender, but we never get to see him do something truly despicable on screen. I came up with a story beat that might escalate him to villain status, and I came up with a story spotlight card for the set where it happens. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Great Redesigner Search: Tribal

Welcome back to The Great Redesigner Search, the series where I revise all of my GDS3 designs! This week was the challenge I did best on, so you'd think I don't have that much to change, but I turned in a few cards at the last minute and would like to rectify that. As before, you can see my original designs and judge feedback here

Sunday, August 16, 2020

CCDD 081620 - Locked in Combat

Here's one of those card designs where the concept is clear and the challenge is how to make it appealing, because the concept just doesn't do that much. How often would you want this effect over Smite or Celestial Flare?

Friday, August 7, 2020

Weekend Art Design Challenge 20200807 - ZendikART Rising (1)

Happy Friday, Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design parameters. With those as your guidelines, design a 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.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

CCDD 080520 - Vault of the Dross

I designed a scry (and cascade, etc.) reward that works along the same lines as Bag of Holding. The Bag works more smoothly in a couple of ways, though. See what they are?

Monday, August 3, 2020

Friday, July 31, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 073120 - Vehicles

Hey Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

CCDD 073020 - Feather, Watch-Angel

This card started out as a "bottom-up" design. I wanted to see what a build-around card for mechanics like replicate or strive would look like, since those mechanics don't fit well in traditional spellslinger decks. I quickly realized that it needed a fairly minor reward to be balanced, and then it wouldn't be as exciting, so I went looking for ways to make it spicier. Things got out of hand from there...

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

CCDD 072820 - Dovin's Prerogative

Most high-profile "hate cards" target specific broken strategies: Relic of Progenitus for graveyards, Stony Silence for artifacts, Damping Sphere for storm, and so forth. A while back I thought about turning this around. If I could define what was "unreasonable" in a game of Magic, and target that, then maybe I could create the One Hate Card To Rule Them All. Here's what I came up with.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

CCDD 072620 - Confront the Sorcerer

This semi-top-down design was a real pain to template. It ended up as an interesting variant on the "modal spell, but opponent chooses" idea.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

CCDD 072220 - Flamekin Scout

There's nothing too groundbreaking about this design since we already have things like Generator Servant and Neheb, the Eternal, but I liked the idea of a creature that could act as a Pyretic Ritual via a saboteur ability. It's a common, so it doesn't need to do anything too fancy anyway.


Monday, July 20, 2020

Impact Tremors

My defining guideline for game design is impact. Broadly speaking, impact is how much a game sticks with you: How much you remember a game after you played it ("that was a good game" versus "I blew up an alien spaceship with my kicks"), how excited it makes you, and how much you want to tell the stories of the game to your friends. Well-designed games don't necessarily need impact, but a good game without impact is dry, inaccessible, and hard to pitch to your gaming group. I make sure that every game I design is as impactful as possible.

Until now, my writing on impact has focused on general/"hobby" games because my game company's blog is aimed at a general audience who might not know that much about Magic. This article views impact through the lens of Magic design: What makes individual cards, and Magic as a whole, impactful, and defining guidelines for creating more impactful cards.

Note: Impact is a subjective topic, so your experience with what cards you find memorable may differ from mine. I hope this article provides you with something even if you disagree with the examples.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 071720 - Color Words

Happy Friday Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

CCDD 071620 - Assassin Training

Auras are card disadvantage, which limits their design space in some ways but expands it in others. For example, powerful activated abilities can often go on an aura that costs less than a creature with the ability would. There are lots of examples-- Power of Fire, Presence of Gond-- and I was curious to see how far I could push this.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

CCDD 071420 - Continuous Looting

This design went through a bunch of iterations, if I remember correctly. I knew I wanted a card selection effect that gave players the option or maybe the obligation to stop at some point. As usual, the best way to do that turned out to be the simplest too.


Friday, July 10, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 071020 - Jumpstarted Legends

Hey Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.


Thursday, July 9, 2020

CCDD 070920 - Frontline Anthem

Here's a weird keyword ability. It goes on any permanent, but preferably non-creatures to avoid timing issues. It's partly upside but mostly downside. It's trying to capture the flavor of borders, conquests, and lines of battle. It's... defensive!


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

CCDD 070720 - Robo-Brawler

This is a classic example of a pure Mel design. Given the concept, the text box has basically zero flexibility, so the only available "knobs" are the power/toughness and mana cost.


Friday, July 3, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 070320 - Blue Autumn

Happy Friday, Artisans, and Happy 4th to those in the US! Click through to see this weekend's design parameters. With those as your guidelines, design a 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, July 2, 2020

CCDD 070220 - Jor Kadeen, the Resister

Here's another take on "encourage interaction through combat by doing broken things if opponents don't interact." It's the flip side of the previous CCDD in it's framed positively-- your own creatures are the ones being encouraged (okay, required) to attack. The payoff is that blocking is pretty much the only way your opponents can interact profitably.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

CCDD 063020 - Quincy, Master Bureaucrat

Attacking and blocking with creatures is a big part of what makes Magic fun, but some decks just don't want to fight fair. They focus on finding ways to win-- or at least accrue an overwhelming advantage-- outside of combat. In the interest of fun I like to find cards that make those decks less appealing, but it's hard to interact favorably with strategies that are fundamentally non-interactive. Sometimes, I find, it's better to fight unfair with unfair.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 062620 - Masks

Happy Friday, Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design parameters. With those as your guidelines, design a 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, June 25, 2020

CCDD 062520 - Adaptation

Here's a design inspired by Hostility, which turns Lava Spike-style direct damage into creature tokens. I wanted to capture the same feeling of rewarding a type of effect that isn't normally a great investment. Ikoria gave me exactly the tools I needed to do that in green.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

CCDD 062320 - Cascading Failures

Here's a Shatter variant that punishes artifact-heavy decks. 


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 062020 - Extremely Common

Hello Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

CCDD 061720 - Funny or Die

Making, and choosing, piles is fun. After the original Fact or Fiction there have been several imitations like Death or Glory and Do or Die. Let's make another.


Friday, June 12, 2020

CCDD 061220 - One-Eye, the Wanderer


Designing "Norse gods" has been an appealing design goal since we saw Magic take on the Greek pantheon in Theros, even more so since we met the Egyptian gods of Amonkhet. I've seen several neat ideas from other sources but there's still one implementation that appeals the most to me as a mechanical and flavor match.


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Friday, June 5, 2020

Weekend Design Challenge 060620 - Core 2021 Teaser

Hello Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

CCDD 060420 - Phyrexian Prosthetic

I forget where I got the idea for this design. Maybe I was trying to come up with cool equip cost discounts, like the ones on Ghostfire Blade and Blackblade Reforged. Or maybe I was just trying to design a card for Tezzeret the Seeker's arm and got the lore mixed up.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

CCDD 060320 - Impatient Growth

Plenty of iconic spells have multicolored variants-- e.g. Detention Sphere or Counterflux-- but as far as I know we've never seen a multicolored Rampant Growth effect, unless you count Spring // Mind. Part of the problem is that Rampant Growth is faster unconditional ramp than Standard is supposed to get these days, so tacking on a multicolor bonus would probably create a too-powerful card. But there's at least one way around that...

Saturday, May 30, 2020

CCDD 053020 - Turn to Vapor

This design is inspired by Lignify and friends-- Darksteel Mutation, Kasmina's Transmutation, and so on. They often make their target useless for attacking, but leave it able to block. That can be a major drawback-- for example, if the target is The Locust God or a Commander or another creature with built-in recursion-- so I decided to make a version that plays somewhat differently.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

CCDD 052820 - Towering Strider

What exactly is the flavor of trample, anyway? Are we supposed to imagine Proud Wildbonder literally running over a Pyroceratops, for example? Or is he just so fast and furious that his momentum carries him past the Dinosaur's corpse and into the opponent's face? I don't really have an answer, so this is just a long way of letting you know that I have no idea whether Towering Strider's ability makes sense.

Monday, May 25, 2020

CCDD 052520 - Goblin Savant

Nothing too fancy today, just a red one-drop in the vein of Foundry Street Denizen or Monastery Swiftspear.

Friday, May 22, 2020

CCDD 052220 - Brain Beam

We've seen the Erratic Explosion effect multiple times; many of the variants have some way of making up for the real feel-bad when you flip over a land. This version cuts to the chase and just has the land deal a reasonable amount of damage.