Tuesday, May 24, 2011

21 Ways to Design a Card: Part 4 - Design Around a Movie Villain

Top-down ideas can result in cards you haven't seen before. But just thinking "I'll make a top-down card" isn't restriction enough to breed creativity; you should settle on some category.

One fertile category is movie villains. Good villains tend to have very interesting traits, abilities, and persona, instead of just being strong and smart.

I designed some below. It was fun. See if you can guess who the model for each card was.

(Click on cards to enlarge)

Another card inspired by the same character:

The above card looks weak but it should start multiplying exponentially like rats in just a few turns. It could be scary in a mill deck. The second ability is kind of weird and probably shouldn't be there, but I wanted it to emulate the "dogpile" strategy by that character. But I don't want the ability used against attacking creatures because that would create board stall in addition to dramatically increasing "chessiness". 

Actually, I got the above idea while trying to design a card to combat Caw-Blade. I came up with the ability "You control target equipped creature" but didn't know what the flavor should be. Then I thought about this movie character, so I added the second ability. When searching for ideas, multiple paths tend to converge.

Besides the movie character, this card draws inspiration from the Blight mechanic in Shawn Main's Wodotha set in GDS2.

This card read a little better when the 2nd ability was phrased differently: "Destroy each permanent with a bomb counter on it except for one permanent of target opponent's choice."
I want to represent this guy as a sadist who gives the good guys a moral dilemma about who to save. But the counter should be removed from the permanent once the player choses to save it, so I changed the wording to what is shown. Now that the phrase "remove a bomb counter" is moved up front, it actually makes him seem lenient. Maybe there could be a better phrasing.

Probably too much text... I need to think of another shorter ability that can make use of the "up to nine cards" ability.

Based on the same top-down concept as Parasitic Implant.

The next one is based off of a manga character. It's not as universally well known as the other ones so you might not know it.

Out of these, I designed the card Zoroc and Darktide Mentor for a set I was working on last year. I was having trouble coming up with varied legends. Thinking about villains from stories helped me come up with nasty things for the creatures to do, more than just the generic flying bomb.


  1. Pretty nice cards. I'd be interested in seeing something like Astra Parasite, but with the Horror creation triggering for every creature that dies, giving you some versatility with it.

  2. Good stuff.
    Catrina is cute but unprintable. Nine creatures for 3 mana? Take THAT, Squadron Hawk.

  3. @VanVelding Yeah, I guess there could be a creature that does it to opponent's creatures repeatedly.

    @Jay I guess Catrina has to be costed like an indestructible creature, or Thrun.