Tuesday, June 21, 2011

21 Ways to Design a Card: More Cards Based on Aaron's Random Card Comments

I've been running an experiment of designing cards based on the perspectives provided in Aaron's Random Card Comment of the day.

(See here for the previous post.)

#2: Animate Artifact
Read the comment here.

Aaron states that while the effect of animating an artifact has been redone in the form of mass animation, repeatable activated ability, or an instant, it hasn't been revisted as an Aura, and that it could be done again at the right cost.

I thought about the right cost and effect. The simplest translation to modern costing I could think of was to make it a cantrip. Even in Limited, just getting a creature with P/T equal to mana cost would be unimpressive if you have to spend two cards to do so. When it comes to constructed, Blue currently gets a 4/4 flyer with an upside for 4cc, and even that hardly gets played.

Besides making it a cantrip, another way to balance the card might be to provide a keyword like flying, shroud, or regeneration.

In some rare case, it might be right to play this in Limited.

The above cards might be fun if there's a repeatable effect that can bounce Auras. Also, if there are artifacts with cost reduction mechanics like Myr Enforcer, or Thundering Tanadon, it could get huge in relation to the actual cost paid. 

Then I tried making it good enough to inspire a rogue draft strategy where you try to pick up lots of marginal artifacts and copies of the animation card, even if that deck doesn't materialize often.

If that archetype involves drafting multiple copies of the animation card, it would have to be a common.

This is the simplest form I could see it still being useful. Being at common, it probably shouldn't reference converted mana cost, since changing permanent types is already complex. 

This would be best in a set with lots of artifacts, especially cantrip artifacts as well as small artifact creatures with abilities like flying. 

I would get greedy and make it work like the Zendikons: 

This one could reset artifacts with limited charges such as Tumble Magnet, or reuse ETB effects of artifacts. I like it when you can incidentally find a neat trick or interaction during the game.

If it isn't a common, it has to be more resilient. 

This one could also just behave like the Genju of the Spires cycle, and return to hand automatically when the artifact dies. One the other hand, the version that requires mana can save the artifact creature from creature kill by turning it back into a noncreature artifact when the Aura bounces.

This is my favorite. Whatever spark that is inhabiting the artifact hops around, changing hosts. It makes you want to have multiple artifacts in play so that the spark can escape destruction.

If it turns out that moving around at instant speed is too annoying, it could be changed to move only when the enchanted creature would die.

Many other permutations of this card are possible, applying other tools available in the Aura designer's toolbox, such as the ones MaRo discusses here, and here

#3 Merfolk of the Pearl Trident
Read the comment here.

Aaron Forsythe's comment says he's been trying to get a vanilla 1/1 in sets. On this issue, I'm glad he didn't succeed! I like it when every card has some specialty.

But the main point of the comment is that it's neat when an underwhelming card can get good for some players in some context, such as the Merfolk - Opposition deck that made it to the finals of 2001 Worlds.

I tried thinking of a card that can make it right to play an archaic underwhelming vanilla card.

(Click on image to enlarge)

This card was intended for humor. On a more serious note, I think the key is to make an effect that cares about some aspect of the cards it affects.

(Click on image to enlarge)

I'm just throwing ideas around, especially with the last two cards...

One thing I need to think about is that the cards shouldn't just provide a direction for deckbuilding, but also need to play well.

Also, the card Opposition doesn't call out for a particular category of creature to affect. The Opposition-Merfolk deck just needed the 1/1 Merfolk because of the way the low costs meshed with the deck, along with the existence of Merfolk lords. I may need to be more subtle.


  1. Magic Top Hat U
    Enchantment- Aura
    Enchant Noncreature Artifact
    Enchanted Artifact is a creature with power and toughness equal to its converted mana cost.
    Totem Armor

  2. Fun and very interesting to learn to design Cards.

  3. Knight of the Unicorn doesn't work. As long as a static ability grants abilities to creatures without abilities, you create an infinite loop.

  4. @DrJones
    At first I thought so too, so I made it 0: Target creature with no abilities gains banding until end of turn.

    But then I was looking at the Oracle wording of Animate Artifact:

    "As long as enchanted artifact isn't a creature, it's an artifact creature with power and toughness each equal to its converted mana cost."

    It seems that this doesn't cause an infinite loop of turning on, then turning off. I think it works when the condition and the effect are on the same layer or category of things.

  5. @Duncan
    You've got good designs, I'd like to see what you would make out of the Card Mashup Design Contest criteria! (if you haven't already)

    @Madison Web Designer
    Thanks! I'm also learning as I make this, but I hope to make it fun for others to read through.

  6. Trick of the Mimic 2UU
    Enchantment - Aura
    Enchant artifact.
    You control enchanted artifact. It loses all abilities and becomes a blue Shapeshifter creature with power and toughness equals to its casting cost. It’s still an artifact.

  7. @DrJones:
    Trick of the Mimic would definitely be cool in New