Monday, May 16, 2011

21 Ways to Design a Card: Part 2 - Use a Magic Glossary + More Japanese-Inspired Cards

A great way to design varied cards is to look at a glossary of Magic terms or player jargon and make a card inspired by each item that appears on that word list. It will make you think about each zone, each permanent type, each type of player action, and each type of decision-making that players go through in a game.

I'm currently designing cards that are inspired by words that Japanese people use when playing Magic in Japanese. (I will start up a blog on how to play Magic in Japanese very soon.) It's had the same effect as going through a glossary of Magic terms. At first I was just hoping the cards I make would help leave an impression about Japanese words and make them memorable, but I've discovered that designing based on Magic words allows me to think about cards that wouldn't have occurred to me otherwise.

The following are cards based on the words for playing first (senkoh) and drawing first (kohkoh), cards designed for decks that want to increase their chances of either playing first or drawing first. I was surprised to read today in a feature article on the official Magic page that Ken Nagle had already invented cards of that concept years ago during the New Phyrexia design stage, so there isn't much innovation factor for my cards anymore (and I never would have gotten the idea if it weren't for the Chancellor cycle anyways), but I'd still like to post these cards for whatever they're worth.

(click on images to enlarge)

The rules don't allow you to reveal a Leyline or Chancellor card from your hand until the first upkeep, Leyline and Chancellor effects don't go onto the stack until the first upkeep, so it's too late to change the actual play/draw order. But you can still emulate the effect of playing first or drawing first with a bonus land drop or card draw.

I saw in today's article that there was also a design for a Chancellor that allowed you to get a free land drop if it's in your opening hand, but that it was too powerful so they had to change it to make it give you a G mana on the first turn instead.

Also, I know the idea of a card draw effect on a Leyline or Chancellor seems broken in most contexts, but I'm hoping that an effect that gives you a card draw only when you're going first or gives you a land drop only when you're going last isn't broken.


  1. You reveal the Chancellor before the first upkeep. You reveal it before either player begins their turn. The triggered effect just doesn't occur until that first upkeep (for most of them).

  2. Asshole Rules NaziMay 16, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    I would have to squint/move my head closer to the screen to read Senkoh. Not cool.

  3. You can click on the picture to enlarge.

  4. I'll put up a "click to enlarge" note in the text.

    I think it appeals to Timmies if legends have tons of abilities.

  5. Senkoh: Why do only attacking creatures have first strike, and why do you have to pay to give haste? Can't it just be, "Creatures (or other creatures) you control have first strike and haste"?

    Paying 1 to give haste generally means you play the creature a turn later anyway, so it kind of defeats the purpose.

    The "opening hand" ability seems very swingy.

  6. I want Senkoh to be a helper to aggressive decks, so I wanted the first strike to be used for attacking, not for setting up a board stall.

    I think "Creatures you control have haste" is a very powerful ability, so I didn't want to put it on a 3-drop with other abilities and a good body. But I wanted to keep it a 3-drop because I want it to be a card that any aggro deck that has access to Red can run. I think the activated haste is still useful when you top deck a weenie.

    It's true, the opening hand abilities are swingy. Maybe I should make it "you draw a card and an opponent puts a land in play" for Kohkoh, and "you put a land in play and an opponent draws a card" for Senkoh.

  7. I mean, I definitely love the flavor of Senkoh (he really, really, *really* wants you to be the first at everything), but a 3/3 for 2R is above the curve for red, let alone with three abilities.

    I don't think red decks use first strike to create board stalls. If a red deck's not swinging every turn, it probably already lost.

    I agree that activated haste is useful. It just seems like modest upside for a lot of extra words a card that has plenty. That was the main reason I suggested "Your creatures have first strike/haste", although it's obviously nutty on a power level.

    "Play a land, opponent draws a card" does seem interesting. Kind of like a Goblin Guide.