Saturday, June 11, 2011

21 Ways to Design a Card: More Cards Based on R&D Articles

As I stated in the last post, card design isn't just about getting random stimulus to jolt your imagination, it's also about having insight on what makes cards good, or rather, what kind of cards make the game good. 

R&D articles can provide perspective on card designs. It could be insight about how to best balance a certain type of card, or how to facilitate a certain type of game play. (Of course, I'm not saying this kind of insight from articles can replace playtesting or feedback from various types of players; I would be missing the biggest point of those articles if I did.) But what I want to say is that reading about insights on card design is always a plus.

In this post, I tried designing some cards based on card design perspectives in Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment of the Day. 

I used the comments for cards listed on this page. For a complete list of Aaron's comments, click here.

#1 Planar Chaos Aaron's Comment
In this comment, Aaron talks about a category of cards that induce chaos and randomness. It seems that a small subsection of Magic fans really love this kind of card.

The message is that some kinds of random cards are well executed and produce a clear winner and loser with every coin flip, while others just randomly foil what you try to do without upside.

I tried to create a couple of cards that induce a chaotic playing environment.

This would make combat chaotic - usually it's bad to chump block or attack into larger creatures, but this reverses that. I hope the unpredictability of long term combat results would be experienced as random fun, even if there is no coin flipping involved.

At the same time, this card seems to read "Play tokens!" and might be too easy to build around.

By the way, here's another card that I designed during the GDS2 that aims to make combat hectic and hard to predict:

I also tried some cards that add randomness to spell casting.

I think some of the coin-flip junkies out there don't just want an environment where the action is difficult to predict, they really like the adrenaline rush of risk-taking in one fateful moment. The bigger the difference between the good outcome and the bad outcome, the better.

This one is similar to Grip of Chaos, but at least your own spell resolves, so there's an incentive for both players to continue casting spells.

I wanted to make some chaos cards that give you random spells to cast, and I got these two:

Cascading Dreams is like Maelstrom Nexus except that it has hits and misses, and that it lets you live the dream of chaining a whole bunch of spells.

Then I tried making something that's not about casting spells.

Finally, I made a card that makes a minigame about who hits the jackpot of accumulated spells:

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

This is really hard to read in terms of font size and in terms of understanding the intent on the first read. I tried to make a simpler version at the cost of some of the function:

Finally, along this process I was able to rework a card I posted on a forum a few months ago which I had considered doomed and managed to fix up the wording quite a bit. I hope it works:

Wizards is very good at making these weird chaotic environment cards in recent sets. Hive Mind and Knowledge Pool both succeed at creating wacky situations for chaos lovers (at least, I think it was partly aimed at them) while also appealing as puzzle pieces for Johnnies. And the biggest one of those double-hitters is Warp World.

I think I focused too much on the same category of cards: rule-warping enchantments that mess with spellcasting or combat. I ended up with too many similar cards. I should have tried creatures, instants, sorceries, etc. I feel there could be more cards that warp the rules in a simple, grokkable way to get drastically different outcomes. This is an exercise I'd like to give another shot to after I'm done with some other concepts from Aaron's Random Card Comments.

One of the more recent coin-flipping cards is Sorcerer's Strongbox, another double-hitter. It serves a decent role in Limited for players who just want a card draw effect for their deck. But I can also imagine that the thrill-loving players get a rush when they flip the coin, and again when they crack the box to see what they got from it.

The most recent one, an unconfirmed spoiled card from M12, blew my mind:

Goblin Bangchuckers 2RR
Creature - Goblin
T: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, Goblin Bangchuckers deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If you lose the flip, Goblin Bangchuckers deals 2 damage to itself.

At first I thought, "oh, another one of those silly coin flip goblins/orcs." But then it hit me that to a Limited Johnny player, it's a combo piece much like Bloodshot Trainee. But to a thrill-seeking risk junkie, it's a coin flip card. What a clever design.

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