Monday, April 6, 2020

CCDD 040720 - Face of the Unknown

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I liked designing Commanders that pushed popular color combinations in a different direction, right? Well, meet the brute-forciest of brute-force solutions to that challenge.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

CCDD 040520 - Trainer's Orb

This is a very top-down design. By that I mean: first I designed the name and mana cost... then the type line and rarity... and then the abilities.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

CCDD 040420 - Barricades

Here's another Fog effect-- this time an actual attempt to riff on the card Fog, though I think there was some top-down motivation here too.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

CCDD 040220 - Glade Elemental

Evasion is a bummer. I mean, yes, it's a crucial and valuable part of Magic gameplay, from flying to menace to straight-up "can't be blocked". But evasion abilities are fundamentally an invitation not to interact, and decks can abuse those abilities to the point where interacting through combat just isn't a viable strategy. Is there a way to make cards that would punish those decks?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

CCDD 040120 - Gatling Blast

For a bottom-up design, this card went through a crazy number of templating iterations. I knew what I wanted it to do, but not how to do that in a clean and intuitive way. Finally I realized that I could get the text box down to four lines by reusing an existing set mechanic.

Monday, March 30, 2020

CCDD 033020 - Eager Brute

I was a big fan of the Monarch mechanic (as seen on Palace Sentinels) when it showed up in the second Conspiracy set. Being able to assign statuses to players opens up a cool new region of design space. Finding effects that fit nicely there was harder than it seemed, though. Here's an example of one that I'm reasonably happy with.

Friday, March 27, 2020

CCDD 032720 - Read the Ancient Scrolls

Here's a common meant to show off a mechanic. This time around the model is Divination.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

CCDD 032520 - Advance Guard

A recent brainstorming project of mine: figure out what kinds of abilities would be interesting on Savannah Lions (2/1s for W, like Venerable Knight). One idea that occurred to me was a strategic one: these kinds of creatures usually feature in "weenie" decks that want to cast and attack with multiple creatures early on, getting value out of Glorious Anthem effects and the like. Maybe there could be an ability that pushes players in the other direction?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

CCDD 032420 - Virus

This started out as mostly a joke card, but trying to capture the logic of "flatten the curve" / "social distancing" in a reasonable text box turned out to be an interesting challenge.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

CCDD 032220 - A Little Something Extra

Combat tricks are a bad value proposition in many ways. They aren't consistently worth a card, they're vulnerable to instant-speed removal, and so on. What's more, they aren't even all that tricky. Because they cost mana they're at least somewhat telegraphed, and easy to play around once they're suspected. What would it take to work around that problem? Here's one idea.

Friday, March 20, 2020

CCDD 032020 - Friendly Chatterbox

There's a well-known design trap where adding "bad" abilities to an otherwise fine card can make it read a lot worse-- like the difference between Gutter Skulk and Tavern Swindler. Today's card is a little bit that way at first glance, but I'm hopeful that the ability is actually more relevant than it seems.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

CCDD 031920 - Curse of Frustration

Dominion's "Curse" mechanic, where you add junk cards to a deck (usually the opponent's), is a cool and powerful design tool that online CCGs like Hearthstone have also picked up. Unfortunately it's logistically impossible for paper Magic. This is the nearest I could responsibly get to implementing it with existing design tech.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

CCDD 031720 - Ghost Soldier

I was thinking about another design problem when this weird combination of abilities suddenly occurred to me. In hindsight it reminds me of Debt of Loyalty, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't what I had in mind.

Monday, March 16, 2020

CCDD 031620 - You're Nothing Without It

A while back I was brainstorming ideas for making artifact / enchantment removal more appealing. Naturalize is a good card when it has relevant targets, but it often doesn't, so it tends to want either alternate modes (e.g. Return to Nature) or some kind of upside. Here's one flavorful way I found of adding upside.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

CCDD 031420 - Fearless Challenger

As seen on cards like Tromokratis and Loyal Pegasus, blocking restrictions are a surprisingly powerful part of Magic's templating toolbox. You can use them to express almost any condition about the allocation of blockers (which has an exponential number of possibilities) or about the game state more generally. Historically Magic design hasn't gone very deep into this territory. Here's an example of a simple-ish, interesting application.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

CCDD 031220 - As Nature Intended

Nothing too fancy here, just an interesting way to interact with artifacts and enchantments. The tech is pretty common (Sudden Disappearance is the closest analogue, and there are several other mass-flicker effects for creatures only) but using it reactively against opponents' strategies seems novel.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

CCDD 031120 - Eidren, Unblemished

Most of the actual Magic I play these days is casual Commander, and designing cool Commanders is a special hobby of mine. Our playgroup has a running joke about how boringly powerful one player's Golgari decks are, so I thought I'd look for some fresh build-around design space in black-green.

Monday, March 9, 2020

CCDD 030920 - Stare Down

Here's a conditional counterspell that's kind of the opposite of Mana Leak and company: potentially oppressive in the late game but much less reliable early on.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

CCDD 030720 - Wall Runner

This design started out as part of a brainstorming session for blue evasion mechanics. The idea wasn't enough to support a named keyword but it ended up in an interesting spot: kind of like a tamer, blue-flavored version of menace.

Friday, March 6, 2020

CCDD 030620 - Ticking Bomb

"Red can't destroy creatures" is a well-accepted part of the color pie, but cards like Haphazard Bombardment and Shifting Shadow show that certain kinds of designs can get around that. By playing up red's random, unreliable, risky nature they turn what would otherwise be a color pie break into an acceptable color pie bend. Today's design is another attempt to play around in that space.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

CCDD 030420 - Painful Psychosis

There are only so many effects that scale naturally with "pay X life", like Toxic Deluge and Fire Covenant. I think I found one that Magic hasn't done yet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

CCDD 030320 - Great Wall

This design was inspired by Star Realms, which has a category of "Base" cards (think "planeswalkers without loyalty abilities") that have to be destroyed before you can be attacked. It's as if a planeswalker had the static ability "creatures can't attack you." But because of how combat works in Star Realms it's actually more than that-- damage to a base heals at end of turn. The easiest way to implement that in Magic was to make it a creature, even though it often acts more like an enchantment (Moat) or a planeswalker (Gideon Jura).

Monday, March 2, 2020

CCDD 030220 - Watch Your Plan Unfold

I don't have relatively complex thoughts about competitive EDH vs. the kind of commander I play. Win or lose, I want to do the thing my deck was designed to do (herein after referred to as "Do the Thing", and in competitive EDH, I generally don't get to do the thing. Here's a card that forces the issue.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

CCDD 022920 - Mama Bear

Bear with Set's Mechanic has become such a design cliche that it's now an official joke card. But it's a cliche for a reason. Sometimes the best way to show off a neat bread-and-butter mechanic idea really is to put it on a bear.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

CCDD 022720 - Villainous Monologue

I forget whether this was originally a Vorthos design or a Mel design. Both aspects of it are pretty goofy. Which do you think works better?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

CCDD 022620 – Rouse the Rabble

I got inspiration from Divine Visitation, but I took it in a different direction.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

CCDD 022520 - Reality Pillar

What do you do with a fun static ability that isn't worth a whole card? You could put it on a card anyway and cost it aggressively, but that might make it too swingy-- oppressive when it works, disappointing when it doesn't. You could put it on a creature, but that might change how it reads and plays. Or you could staple it to other kinds of effects. Cantrips are a popular example (e.g. Blood Sun) but depending on the context there might be better choices. With today's card I ended up taking an unusual approach.

Monday, February 24, 2020

CCDD 022420 - Eroding Hiking Trail

Like many here (I bet), I have a stable of card design hobby-horses that I keep coming back to. One of those is enters-the-battlefield-untapped dual lands. (I tend to think we have plenty of enters-the-battlefield-tapped-with-upside duals. Finding downsides that let the land enter untapped is harder.) Here's an example:

Sunday, February 23, 2020

CCDD 022320 – Squire of the Hypotenuse

A dumb silver-border design based on one of my favorite jokes. I tried to make it playable with a general triangle theme instead of making players square root numbers, though the joke becomes a little thinner.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

CCDD 022220 - Mental Block

Holding up mana for Cancel (and other counterspells) during an opponent's turn is stressful. You more or less commit to countering whatever they cast, and hope they don't figure out your plan. So a counterspell enchantment that you can cast in advance and use on demand is appealing. In fact it's too appealing. It shuts down interaction and creates frustrating play patterns-- at least, I assume that's we've never seen one (unless you count Common Courtesy). But maybe there's a similar effect that could work.

Friday, February 21, 2020

CCDD 022120 - Struck Blind

Pacifism is an iconic way for white to "remove" creatures by keeping them out of combat. Many powerful creatures these days can just shrug it off, though. Kenrith, the Returned King doesn't have to attack or block to make an impact. To counter this, recently we've seen more variants like Arrest and Trapped in the Tower that turn off activated abilities as well. But then what can we do about creatures like God-Eternal Oketra and Niv-Mizzet, Parun?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

CCDD 021920 - Playing With Fire

Rituals (spells that generate more mana than they cost) are tricky to design. Aggressive decks getting to trade cards for tempo is a cool idea, but almost any ritual that's good at that is even better at powering broken strategies. (Storm decks are the best-known example.) On the other side of the power scale, weak or restricted ritual effects aren't consistently good enough to be worth a card in most decks. If only we could print a ritual effect that didn't take up an entire card...

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

CCDD 021820 - Boogeyman

Reanimation spells like Cauldron's Gift usually have to target expensive creatures to be worth it. If you're spending 4-5 mana and a card, you want to be getting a creature that's worth at least that much, not some random 3/3. Even creatures with reanimation built-in often want extra bonuses when they come back-- like Pharika's Spawn and the other Escape creatures from Theros Beyond Death. So what would it take to make a 1-mana creature an appealing reanimation target?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Legends of Runeterra

Riot just released the beta for the League of Legends CCG, Legends of Runeterra. I thought I'd share my reactions:

Thursday, January 23, 2020

CCDD 012320—Garruk Wildspeaker

Cool Card Design of the Day
Found a note I made last year about another way to solve the when-planeswalkers-were-sagas-they-didn't-have-enough-agency problem.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Announcing: Goblin Game 2020

It's that time of year again! Tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 21) I'll be running my annual Goblin Game on Twitter. It'll kick off some time around 1 PM 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.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

CCDD 010920 – Evolved Wilds

Core 2019 had a focus on eliminating as many tutor and shuffle effects as possible. It made me think: Is it possible to completely eliminate shuffling from Magic except for once at the start of each game?