Friday, September 30, 2011

21 Ways to Design a Card #9: Design for Draft Archetypes (pt.3)

In this series, I've been writing about designing cards (and sets) for Limited environments where archetypes matter - environments where you draft decks, not cards.

In the last post, I wrote how I think the following two questions are important when you're thinking about how to make archetypes matter in your set.
  • What makes decks different from each other? Why are there different approaches to the same game?
  • What factors can make a card fit better into one deck more than another?
Last time, I discussed the color pie as one of the answers to this questions. This time, I'd like to discuss how different decks care differently about time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

M13 Goblin's Lair

We've done enough testing to be confident that Lair is a solid, grokkable and fun mechanic to showcase in our core set. We've even established that the land-specific ability word is vastly preferred among playtesters. Get used to hearing about Mountain Lair, Swamp Lair and friends because it doesn't look like they're going anywhere. I've added the subtitle "Goblin's Lair" to differentiate our set from the inevitable real thing. We can change this later if we find something more appropriate, but I like that it hints not only at the content of the set but the authorship.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Random Thoughts on Innistrad

It's been a long week at work. I haven't been able to do any of my normal gaming as a result and I couldn't make the midnight prerelease because, frankly, I'm too old to stay up that late anymore. For the same reason, I'm up before 10am on this fine day Saturday. Next Innistrad event isn't until 1, so I might as well type up those thoughts I didn't have time to on Monday when the full spoiler went up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

M13 Playtesting Commons with Lair

We now have a preliminary set of 101 commons ready for playtesting the lair mechanic (recently known as terrain). You can grab the MSE file to print your own or you can test virtually at Wizard's (search for cards from the set 2013). Here are some sample decks. W, WU, U, UB, B, WB, R & G. Feel free to post your own combinations.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Exporting MSE to Wizard's Familiar

You can load your custom sets from Magic Set Editor into the free online deck tool, Wizard's for deck-building, playtesting and even sharing. Here's an example. (Click the Enter button from the main page to enter the tool and see the deck). Now let me show you how.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

M13 Bits and Pieces (2)

Once we've had a chance to playtest the commons with terrain/lair, we'll decide whether to move forward with it or not. When we do, we need to have more organized discussion about the archetypes and subthemes we want present and at what frequency.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

M13 Bits and Pieces (1)

O what a tangled web we weave. When we first practice to design a core set. (Sorry for the poetic dissonance.) Everyone knows that a set is a complex interwoven thing and that a change in one place can ripple across the whole thing, causing other cards to change with it. We know it because Mark Rosewater tells us, or because we've designed a set before or because it's fairly obvious if you think about it. What I didn't know before this project was how much more tangled that web is when you're working as a team.

21 Ways to Design a Card #9: Design for Draft Archetypes (pt.2)

In part 1 of this post, I talked about sets that encourage archetype-based drafting like Rise of the Eldrazi or M11 and what makes them enjoyable. Here, I'd like to continue that topic and discuss some of the ways to make archetypes matter more in a set.

So, how do we make archetypes matter more in a set? That question is tied very deeply to the following questions:

  • What makes decks different from each other? Why are there different approaches to winning?
  • What factors can make a card fit better into one deck more than another?

There are several answers to these questions, and I'll try to cover them one by one in the rest of this series. In this post, I'll deal with the most basic answer to both of these questions: the color pie.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

M13 The Commons (1)

We have successfully made a working first draft of the white commons (which can be played as a very rough deck here on I'm quite certain this list will change before Design is done (much less before Development touches it), but it's sufficient to show one reasonable path for white in M13 as well as the value and fun of Terrain. Because of that encouraging result, our next step is to design the rest of the commons so that we can start visualizing the set as whole and making more context aware decisions.

Friday, September 9, 2011

21 Ways to Design a Card #9: Design for Draft Archetypes (pt.1)

Recent sets such as Rise of the Eldrazi or M11 have been very successful at emphasizing archetypes in their Limited environments. In these sets, you try to draft a deck with a coherent strategy or game plan, rather than just pick cards based on how good they are on their own.

While any given card set would naturally contain some archetypes, some environments are more friendly to archetype-based drafting than others.

In this post, I'd like to discuss the benefits of sets emphasizing archetype-based Limited.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

M13 Designing Terrain Part 2

The last post is pretty long on comments and I think it's time I checked in with you, so here are all the things the team has learned since Wednesday. I will be paraphrasing the contributors heavily as most of this gold is from their beautiful alchemy (as are the cards on the right).