Monday, May 14, 2012

Design Challenge #2: Too Damn Small

What up, designers?  H 2 tha V here with another challenge for you.  (Yes, I learned my judge skills from America's Best Dance Crew.  Don't hate.)  

When I read the entries for the first Design Challenge, I was impressed by the resourcefulness and creativity of our readers. This next challenge is rather unconventional, and will test those abilities.  I hope you enjoy it!

Mark Rosewater has stated that red's slice of the color pie is too narrow.  For this challenge, you must come up with an idea or mechanic to add to red.  You may move something from another color or create something entirely new.  This mechanic should be sufficiently flexible that it can appear in every large set.  

For this challenge, submit an essay of 50-150 words explaining your idea and a core set common or uncommon card demonstrating its use.

E-mail your essay and card to by midnight on Friday, May 18.  This challenge is open to everyone.  One entry per person.  The winners will be posted on Monday, May 21.


  1. Don't you think it would be easier to showcase the flexibility of the mechanic if we gave you up to three cards (Common, Uncommon, and Rare or Mythic Rare)? Even with the essay, one card doesn't seem an effective way to show what we can do with the new thing.

    1. I think one card can be enough to define a piece of the color pie. What I'm looking for is the next Act of Treason, Shock, or Firebreathing. Finding an appropriate effect is the challenge; designing for it at higher rarities is not.

    2. Yeah, interesting point. On the one hand, looking at Act of Treason, it really should be obvious how much potential design space there is. And if someone submits a lot of variants, it obscures the simple common at the start. On the other hand, it's always possible there is a lot of design space but it's not obvious (eg. a mechanic which tacking it onto other creatures doesn't look very interesting, but actually plays very differently to existing cards) in which case it makes sense to support that. I guess the best compromise is to invite people to submit variants, but emphasise that they'll be judged primarily on the common, or to invite people to describe in text if they think there's any positive implications which aren't obvious -- people probably should do that anyway.

    3. I guess I'm also asking people to trust me to notice the implied variations on their idea. And maybe that's not a reasonable thing to ask. But if there are any subtleties about implementation, mentioning them in the essay should be sufficient.

      But also, I just don't care much about higher rarities, because commons and uncommons do most of the heavy lifting for the color pie.

    4. And maybe that's not a reasonable thing to ask.

      I realised I didn't realise this until I was writing my reply, but that when I thought about it, I realised that almost always, for a good core mechanic, the implications WILL be obvious to anyone with any familiarity with design, so it's not a problem, but that it's still natural for people to wonder if they need to make that explicit, even if they don't, and there may be some excpeptions where it would be useful.

      I just don't care much about higher rarities, because commons and uncommons do most of the heavy lifting for the color pie.

      Good point. A mechanic which can do interesting things at uncommon and rare is always good, but (if I remember what Mark Rosewater said) red's not actually short of interesting higher-rarity cards, it's just short of variety at common other than "another shock" and "another goblin piker", so you're right, that's what we should be commenting on.