Sunday, February 13, 2011

CCDD 021311—Avenge

Classic Cool Card Design of the Day
What follows is a CCDD that was created before the feature transitioned from the Wizards Wiki to Goblin Artisans. It has been formatted to fit your screen.

2/13/2011 - Folks who have seen my work on Muraganda since the contest will already recognize Avenge. I was conflicted whether to use it here or not because I knew I had set up an expectation, having presented one of each other color so far, but I didn't have any new white card ideas worth sharing. You're seeing this now because it's a strong enough card to "reprint" and because it allows me to talk about expectation and re-use.

Humans love patterns. Some more than others, sure, but at the end of the day, all of human thought is based on pattern-recognition and -completion. Game design (and in fact, writing, filming and pretty much all media) is about a balance between recognizable patterns that draw the viewer into your world; incomplete patterns that cause them to think about the parts of your world you've never presented, engaging them and setting up expectations; and surprises--moves entirely unexpected by the viewer that keep them interested because a world whose pattern-holes are predictably filled is boring.

Magic is a master of this balance. They set up micro patterns in mechanics, card cycles and referential cards and they set up macro patterns like the color wheel and block/set structure. They create holes that cause speculation like the multi-block cycle of Swords. And they constantly surprise us by shaking things up with block structure (see Lorwyn/Shadowmoor and Zendikar/Rise of the Eldrazi) or printing cards we never thought possible (Blightsteel Colossus).

They also reprint cards. Curiously, doing so often acts more as a surprise than not despite it being something you've seen before because it happens in the context of a new set with all new cards. The old card stands out. The best part is when the reprinted card takes on new meaning in the context of this set and players can see it in a new light. Shatter in the Mirrodin blocks is a perfect example; an abstractly poor sideboard card in most sets becomes an arguably first-pickable card that definitely makes the main deck.


  1. I feel like Avenge could be at home in a set where one or more of the mechanics cares about counting damage dealt.

    Alternatively, there's surely 3W "Avenge deals damage to target creature equal to the damage it dealt this turn. You gain that much life." ? (Which could also easily be RW)

  2. That's not bad—it eliminates the drawback of letting it strike first.

    For future reference I also want to mention the idea that Avenge should either cost less (compare to Reciprocate) or cantrip.