Saturday, October 27, 2012

Set Design: Round 2 Pitches!

Now that we have eight set ideas to work with, the next step is to flesh out some mechanical themes for these sets.  And it's up to you, dear readers, to pitch these sets in the second round!  You may submit a pitch for any set that you did NOT pitch in the first round.  (For example, anyone except Pasteur is welcome to pitch Athambia Academy.)  You are also welcome to pitch more than one set, if you have the time and energy.

Each pitch will consist of designs for six common cards.  All six cards should be the same color, unless the set has a strong multicolor or artifact theme.  They should have some variety in types and converted mana costs, but at least half should be creatures.  The best pitches will be those that demonstrate a major mechanical theme and prove that it has sufficient design space and fun gameplay.  It is more important to explore a single theme well than to show off multiple themes.  (Of course, showing off multiple themes effectively would also be a strong pitch!)  The second round is due at midnight Pacific time on Sunday, November 4.  As usual, e-mail them to

Because blog comments are a somewhat awkward way to discuss multiple topics, I've set up a wiki for our use.  Try it out!  Of course, you can also just comment on the original eight posts on the blog, but I think the wiki may be easier to use in the long run.  Let me know if you have any feedback on collaboration systems.

To demonstrate the sort of thing we're looking for, here are some sample pitches for recent sets:

Scars of Mirrodin
  • Contagious Nim
  • Bleak Coven Vampires
  • Leaden Myr
  • Corpse Cur
  • Sylvok Lifestaff
  • Relic Putrescence

  • Bloodcrazed Neonate
  • Crossway Vampire
  • Night Revelers
  • Vampiric Fury
  • Nightbird's Clutches
  • Harvest Pyre

Return to Ravnica
  • Centaur's Herald
  • Chorus of Might
  • Common Bond
  • Knightly Valor
  • Trostani's Judgment
  • Horncaller's Chant


  1. Again with the commons! In light of NWO, can't we at least pitch 1 uncommon? 5 commons and an uncommon all in one color is a better way to demonstrate the scope of a set's potential. I understand that a theme has to live at common, otherwise it's not the theme. But when it's just commons, there's no opportunity to showcase constructed/limited build around me cards. I don't understand the limitation here.

    1. Well, the goal of the pitch is to prove that a mechanical theme works. Whether or not it works at common is the most constrained part; once that's been demonstrated, extrapolating how it could work at higher rarities is not the hard part.

      In general, I find that "build around me" cards are actually much easier to design than their common counterparts. Once the mechanics are locked in, it's just not that hard to come up with a Growing Ranks, Burning Vengeance, or Corpsejack Menace. Cards like Centaur's Herald, Bump in the Night, and Daggerdrome Imp do much more work to prove that populate, flashback, and scavenge (respectively) have enough design space.

      If we had already settled the mechanics and wanted to show them off, I'd agree that we should dip into higher rarities. But this challenge is to find out whether the mechanics are good enough to use, period. And for that, there's no substitute for commons.

    2. It's easy in hindsight to pick 6 commons from a color that demonstrate a set's themes, but doing it before a set is finished is damned difficult. So often the mechanic that ties a set together is discovered after a bunch of trial and error. Don't be surprised if you get a lot of cards that are naturalize or shock with a set mechanic stapled to it. And don't be surprised if you find yourself typing "Nice card, but this could be from any set" over and over.

    3. Part of showcasing a theme is in how it changes the value of other simple cards in the set. Sure, Crossway Vampire could be from any set, but it's especially relevant alongside Bloodcrazed Neonate, which really wants to connect on the third turn. Part of this challenge seems to be how to find and incorporate those innocuous-looking cards.

    4. Nich makes a relevant point: this is a lot easier to do when you have many colorbound block-specific elements. Doing the same in Zendikar or New Phyrexia (where defining mechanics were spread evenly across colors) is a whole different matter.

  2. For anybody who would like to contribute to Mondombre, I've set up the wiki for it. It's ready for your mechanics and card designs!

    Mondombre Wiki:

  3. Does the link to the wiki page not work?
    It just says site deleted.

    1. I've contacted wikidot. It should be back up in 24 hours, unless something goes terribly wrong.