Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mark Rosewater, Please Read This Article: Red in the Late Game

[This series consists of articles about the future of Magic.  Because they are intended partly as feedback for R&D, they contain no original designs.]

"Red.  Red never changes."

Unfair, you might cry!  Red has changed a lot over the years.  But sometimes, casting Stromkirk Noble into Hellrider feels a lot like casting Goblin Guide into Hell's Thunder.

Or Figure of Destiny into Boggart Ram-Gang.
Or Goblin Sledder into Blistering Firecat.
Or Goblin Cadets into Viashino Cutthroat.
Or Jackal Pup into Ball Lightning.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Challenge #9: Critique

VanVelding submitted this alternate victory card for critique:
Bind in Tribulation (Rare)
Pay 2 life: Target opponent gains 2 life. Only any opponent may activate this ability.
At the beginning of your upkeep, Bind in Tribulation deals 3 damage to target opponent with the lowest life total. If that player loses the game, you win the game. (If two or more opponents are tied for lowest life, target any one of them.)

Nich Grayson's Avacyn Restored Cards (Part 1 of 3)

A while ago, Nich Grayson posted some ideas in a facebook post called 10 Designs I Was Hoping to See in Avacyn Restored (with renders!) and I felt that many of the cards in the post contained good ideas. With his permission, I am reposting them here. I've chunked them up into 3 parts; this is the first one.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Return to Ravnica - First Impressions

Everyone's excited about Return to Ravnica and I'm no exception. My optimism has dulled a bit since the entire set has been spoiled, but mostly just because I don't think they hit the flavor as well as I know they can. I'm hoping actually playing with the cards will make me forget all about that.

If you look at just the commons, Return to Ravnica bears more resemblance to Rise of the Eldrazi than the original Ravnica in a few ways. There are more expensive spells than usual, more ramp and more defenders to help you get to them. RtR appears to be another iteration on Battlecruiser Magic. 
It makes sense… The biggest weakness of multicolor magic is the difficulty of getting the specific colors you need for your 2.5—3.5-color deck early in the game. ETB-Tapped lands like Golgari Guildgate and artifact fixers like Azorius Keyrune help you to get there, but further reduce early game action. So it makes perfect sense to skew your gold set toward the slower end of the spectrum. That way, many fewer games will end with one player never casting a spell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sonnet #3: On people who want Counterspell to be reprinted

I heard an ancient mage lamenting blue.
For Counterspell's return he made his plea:
"Imagine if a Bolt dealt only two;
That's how I feel when Cancel costs me three!
I loved the game much better long ago,
Forbidding my opponents all day long.
But now they print no goodies for Draw-Go.
Oh, how could R&D have gone so wrong?"
Quoth I, "Sir, if you care about the game,
Think on the fates of those whom you Dismissed.
To them, those duels were tedious and lame.
Your deck pretended theirs did not exist!
Though Counterspell emits nostalgia's glow,
You might as well be waiting for Godot."

CCDD 092612—Necrotic Nexus

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/26/2012 - I know team-pump hasn't been in black's slice of the color pie for ages, but I still miss Bad Moon. Necrotic Nexus was a top-down from the art a long time ago and looking at it now, I can see where I was going with it—the evil power of the nexus strengthens your dark minions and gives you terrible knowledge, but at an inhuman price—but it feels wrong. The two effects don't seem to jive mechanically and feel stapled together. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CCDD Pyretic Memory & Visceral Memory

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/25/2012 - Here are a pair of executions on the same idea. I don't remember the inspiration, but I know Pyretic Memory came first. Maybe I was looking for an effect that could be upgraded based on a coin flip.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Challenge #9: Results

Reading the submissions for this design challenge confirmed something I already suspected: making alternate victory conditions is extremely tricky.  It can't be too easy or too hard to fulfill.  It can't be too narrow for players to build around, but it also has to be a difficult enough hoop to feel worth jumping through.  It has to make some sort of sense in one-on-one duels as well as multiplayer games, including popular formats such as Commander.  The condition also needs to feel somewhat logical, or at least not completely arbitrary.

With that long list of conditions in mind, let's peruse my top three!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

CCDD 092012—Moorland Bandit

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/20/2012 - This black two-drop might be the love-child of Surrakar Marauder and Bloodthrone Vampire, with Psychatog as her godfather. Inspired from the art, I was looking for something that evoked the mercenary feel but with a necro-twist that explains why she's hanging around in a graveyard.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CCDD 091812—Challenge the Mighty

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/18/2012 - Here are three iterations of a design based on a piece of art and a name. I wanted to share the thought process that some cards go through. The first two versions have serious problems but the last one is pretty decent.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Challenge #9: Duh, Winning!

L'Shana Tovah, designers! May the year 5773 be happy and Magic-al for all of you.

This week's contest is difficult, and will present a serious challenge to your creativity. Alternate victory condition cards only come along once every few sets. Your challenge is to design one that's different from any we've seen before. (EDIT: This includes the recently spoiled Azor's Elecutors.)

E-mail your card to by midnight (Pacific Time) on Friday, September 21. The winners will be posted on Monday, September 24. This challenge is open to everyone. One entry per person. Please specify your preferred name or pseudonym. Entries may be edited slightly for consistent templating. If you are interested in having your submission publicly critiqued, put the word "critique" in the subject line of your e-mail.

CCDD 091712—Interminable March

Cool Card Design of the Day
- This illustration by Brent Hallowell needed to be a card. The mood gave me the card name, the name gave me the ability, and the ability gave me the color. You might question that last part when you see the card, so let's take a look now. I'll explain when you're done.

Friday, September 14, 2012

CCDD 091412—Parasitosmosis

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/14/2012 - Fungal Sprouting rewards you for having a big creature. That's a good thing. Players enjoy big creatures and it does the game good to reinforce fun strategies. That said, every* strategy needs a counter strategy, which got me thinking about a version of the card that cares about your opponent's biggest creature. One logical twist later and you've got two new cards:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CCDD 091312—Prey Tracker

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/13/2012 - Prey Tracker is the result of this recent conversation. The first version is needlessly complicated but demonstrates my attempt to duplicate the ability to attack tapped creatures instead of players in Kaijudo. The main problem is the awkward wording, but even without that, we also lose something in translation: In Kaijudo, creatures with blocker can intercept any attack, even against one of your other creatures.

This is very similar to Axxle's Brawling Goblin:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Challenge #8: Critique

Axxle submitted the following combat-based mechanic for critique:
Brawling Goblin
Creature - Goblin
When ~ attacks, you may have it fight target creature.
This is a simple and elegant trigger.  The flavor implications are quite clear and resonant.  But there's a huge risk in printing a card like this, one which is not entirely obvious without some historical context.  (This overview will be familiar to many Goblin Artisans readers, but I think it'll be interesting to some.)

Scars, in Retrospect

As armchair designers, we usually flip through new set spoilers to analyze and critique new cards. However, with Scars of Mirrodin about to rotate, I thought it might be worth trying something different. I’m going to take a look back and consider how some of the different aspects of the last block worked out, focusing especially upon what Scars block taught us about making Magic.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CCDD 091112—Misty Basics

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/11/2012 - Today I've got no rules text, nor even a vanilla creature for you. Instead, I wanted to share some art that I found while making other cards that seemed nearly perfect for some basic lands. They're all a bit foggy and make me think of world shrouded in mist. What kind of block would these basics belong to? While you see a lot of mist in horror worlds, we just did that in Innistrad. Plus these just don't feel scary, so much as mysterious or primeval. Perhaps these are lands from an undiscovered world. The question is,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Challenge #8: Results

I'd forgotten how difficult it is to grade these things!  There were many strong submissions, all of which could have made good combat mechanics.  I picked the three that seemed to have the most potential for creating fun and interesting gameplay, but I can imagine another judge picking an entirely different set of winners.  Let's cruise into the red zone and see what people came up with.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Magic 2013 Favorites

I had been planning on writing a design review of Magic 2013 (the official Wizards version) but I prioritized it below wrapping up the GA M13 project and then Greg Marques & Jules Robins both did excellent jobs of it, obviating the need. Even so, I can't let my second favorite set to Draft ever pass into history without sharing a few thoughts. In no specific order.

Friday, September 7, 2012

CCDD 090712—Lost Time

Cool Card Design of the Day
9/7/2012 - Gaining or losing a turn is a big deal. One way that Magic handles big effects is to simply require more mana to cast them. Another way is to make their use conditional such that you have to jump through hoops (beyond the hoop of getting X lands into play). For particularly swingy effects like Mind Control and Time Walk, a non-mana hoop is a nice variation, if not a necessary balance. Lost Time is an attempt to add hoops to Time Walk in the form of a mini-game.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

CCDD 090612—Karmic Channeler

Cool Card Design of the Day
- Trying to remember the inspiration for today's card, I think I was either looking for a Spellwild Ouphe with an effect more inspiring than cost reduction or else some kind of reverse hexproof—Sort of a modular Wild Defiance.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Challenge #8: Flawless Victory

Happy Labor Day, designers!  I'm back, and I hope you're ready for some more design challenges.

This week, we're going to focus on the most important and exciting part of Magic: the combat phase.  Your challenge is to design a mechanic that interacts with creatures attacking or blocking.  Good examples of such mechanics include Battle Cry, Exalted, Wither, Bloodthirst, and Bushido.  Your mechanic need not be a keyword.  Demonstrate the use of your mechanic on a single common card.

E-mail your card to by midnight (Pacific Time) on Friday, September 7.  The winners will be posted on Monday, September 10.  This challenge is open to everyone.  One entry per person.  Please specify your preferred name or pseudonym.  Entries may be edited slightly for consistent templating.  If you are interested in having your submission publicly critiqued, put the word "critique" in the subject line of your e-mail.