Sunday, April 28, 2013

Zeffrikar Index

Here's a quick reference for Zeffrikar mechanics and other design concerns:

Current draft archetypes:

  • {W}{U}: Trap Tempo
  • {W}{B}: Weenies/Sac
  • {U}{B}: Mill(drazi)
  • {U}{R}: Colorless Matters
  • {B}{R}: Attrition Control
  • {B}{G}: Lands Lands Lands! (Landfall and Excavate - Tempo)
  • {R}{G}: Eldrazi Ramp
  • {R}{W}: Equipment aggro
  • {G}{W}: Weenie aggro
  • {G}{U}: Voltron Battlecruiser

Current Mechanics:

  • Moonburst (~ enters the battlefield with a +1/+/1 counter for each colorless mana used to pay for it)
    • Not in White, less frequent in Black
  • Ghostfire -- Whenever you cast a colorless spell, [effect]
    • Red and Blue, uncommon in Black
  • Excavate N (To excavate N, put an excavation counter on each of N target lands you control that don't have an excavation counter on them)
    • Example:
      • Enchantment: When ~ etb, Excavate 3. Whenever you excavate, target player puts the top card of her library into her graveyard.
    • In all colors, moreso in Green and Black
  • Trap
    • All colors, blue and white care about the subtype
  • Landfall
    • Green and Black at common, others infrequently at higher rarities
  • Quest - Enchantment: When [Condition], sac ~ and [effect]
    • All colors
  • DFC Creatures
    • All colors
  • Milldrazi N (Whenever ~ attacks, defending player puts the top N cards of her library into her graveyard)
    • Colorless, Blue and Black
  • Bravado N (Whenever ~ blocks, becomes blocked, or fights another creature, it gets +N/+N ueot)
    • All colors, although maybe not in Blue
  • Colorless
    • Some spells with colored costs will have a CDA making it colorless.
  • Eldrazi Spawn
    • Made by Colorless, Red, and Green spells, and Black at higher rarities

Here are links to all the Zeffrikar posts to date:


Stage 1: Exploratory Design

Stage 2: Early Design

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Designing Suvnica, Week One: Leaving Town

We all know that you can take the cards out of the city, but can you take the city out of the cards? Much of what defines the established guilds’ identities is a natural extension of Ravnica’s conceit of a city-plane. The guilds' goals and means were crafted to fill roles in a city setting — government and police, churches and entertainment, economy and civil engineers, etc. Once the city was established as a hook in designing the set, the guilds’ identities naturally gravitated to filling the civic roles the setting demanded.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Introduction to Suvnica

Hi, my name is Jay Zeffren. I was one of the top 101 in GDS2 a few years ago, although I didn't make it into the eventual top 8. (My design submission was Devara, in case you want to check it out.) I've been playing Magic since 1995 and messing around with Magic design on and off since I was in high school. My background is in writing and media, and I'm currently in my final semester of law school.

Weekend Art Challenge 042613—WoGzilla

Weekend Art Challenge
Click through to see this weekend's art and the design requirements for your card submission, due Monday morning. Remember that you may ask for feedback by mid-day Sunday and redesign your submission once after you get it.

CCDD 042613—Blood Vial

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/26/2013 - If you played Magic when the original Mirrodin was out, or if you bought Archenemy, you should recognize Sun Droplet. This is an adorable card that casual players really like because it effectively gives you, the player, regeneration. I certainly have fond memories or knowing that if I can just stall long enough, I will heal any amount of damage you send my way.

Blood Vial plays in a very similar space, but in a darker way…

A Design Review of Dragon's Maze

Dragon's Maze has officially been spoiled, promising a new environment of multicolor madness, an environment where cards that have grown old and familiar can shine in a completely different light. Here's my thoughts on the card designs as well as the Limited environment they have created.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Considering Draft Strategies for Dragon's Maze

Drafting Ravnica—Guildpact—Dissension was awesome and there's no indication that Dragon's Maze—Gatecrash—Return to Ravnica won't be awesome too. Drafting the original RGD was also very hard and I'm sure DGR will be an intense challenge as well. Can we predict how it will play out or at least prepare ourselves to hit the ground running?

Let's start at the beginning…

CCDD 042513—The Boss's Son, Infiltrate & Inside Job

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/25/2013 - The world doesn't need a lot of Sleeper Agents. It doesn't. But if it did

<wavy lines dream sequence>

Suvnica Index

Here's a link to all the Suvnica posts to date.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CCDD 042413—Singular Bloom

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/24/2013 - Everyone loves to Rampant Growth on turn 2. Less so on turn six. A card:

Sonnet #4: To Emmara Tandris

Whence came she by such sturdiness and brawn
Who is no elemental, but an elf?
What other shaman blocks Rix Maadi's spawn,
Or knocks out Hellkite Tyrants by herself?
None but Emmara Tandris, stalwart maid,
Selesnya's runner and its champion fair.
And stronger still with token-wrought brigade;
(She's not just Hexplate Golem, guys, I swear!)
But no mere elf has such vitality
Or lustiness, and though I sing her praise,
Her strength comes not by nature. Know that she,
Like Armstrong, juiced to win the Tour de Maze!
And though her thews be mightier than Mars,
On Gatherer, she'll never break two stars.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tesla: Mission Statement

Before we get started on this project, I think it's important to lay out our goals and process. We determined some of them at the beginning of the set selection process, but there's more to be said on this topic.

Our overall goal is to design a large, standalone set suitable for limited play. Here are a few specific points worth mentioning:

  • We are attempting to emulate the standards of Wizards R&D. Thus, even though our set will never be marketed, it must be marketable. In particular, we're looking for appealing, resonant cards and comprehensible mechanics. We'll try to design for a general Magic audience, not just for ourselves.
  • We are a design blog, and will mostly be working on what Design does. We'll also have a Development period, but only for limited; we can't exactly run FFL without knowledge of the rest of the standard format! 
  • As far as Creative goes, we'll do what we can. Given our budget ($0), we won't be commissioning any artwork. But we will definitely use worldbuilding as a tool to inspire mechanics. 
  • We do not have a specific deadline. Unlike R&D, we have the freedom to work until we're completely satisfied with the product.
One more brief but important announcement: Sadly, I won't have enough free time in upcoming months to continue running this project. But fortunately for all of us, Chah has volunteered to take over! He is now Lead Designer for this set, and I have complete confidence that Tesla is in good hands.

How You Can Playtest Tesla

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and a playtest is worth a thousand online threads.

We would like to invite you guys to experience the current iteration of the Mech mechanic. We hope this will help us think about the best implementation of the Mech mechanic as well as the best way to design a set around it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Act of Legend

Legends have been an indispensable part of Magic for a long time. The "Legendary" supertype lends an aura of coolness to many cards that are popular hits. Story-wise, Legends are important for portraying lead characters in each new setting. Finally, the mechanic is crucial for the existence of the Commander format, one of the most fun ways to play Magic casually.

The mechanic's current function contains some degree of awkwardness, which Mark Rosewater has discussed in this article. (It's also interesting to see the counterpoint Developer Tom LaPille provided here.) One of the points Mark Rosewater raised is that the Legendary mechanic is purely a drawback mechanic.

On the one hand, it seems fine to me to have the Legendary supertype remain purely a drawback since drawbacks allows the card to be more powerful and thus more appealing. It only starts to become a problem when it harms player perception of the card, but legendary status is usually perceived as a source of coolness.

On the other hand, cards that seem fitting as Legends such as the Titan cycle in Magic 2011 are often made into non-Legendary creatures, possibly to avoid negative perception.

A mechanic idea I'd like to talk about today, Act of Legend, tries to add something to the Legendary supertype, adding a beneficial mechanical definition to Legends. Here are examples of a card with this mechanic:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

CCDD 041713—Terror of Misthaven

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/17/2013 - The big problem with Giant Robots Versus Giant Monsters is that it doesn't matter how massive the creatures are, when they tangle in combat, the result is exactly the same as with regular creatures. Either both die, or the one that's +1/+1 or bigger wins. That's not a deal-breaker, but a challenge. We just need to find a way to keep combat between epic creatures epic. I've got a few ideas about that.

I'm going to start with the most awesome, least reasonable solution.

Exploring the Afterlife Pt. 2/3

As we expanded on the many pitches generated for our set design project, it seems that we have produced enough material for several years of set design projects. I'd like to lay out the ideas I've had for Ankh Theb's afterlife theme for the future. It's quite in the realm of possibility that one day we'll design the Ankh Theb set.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Card Ideas for You Make the Card 4

WotC's community card design project, You Make the Card 4, is now in the stage of accepting the actual card text ideas. I can't submit any cards because this stage of the process is limited to residents of the United States and Canada. But here's some ideas of what I might have submitted. Any critique would be welcome.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tesla: Building Robots from Scratch

The central mechanic proposed for Tesla (née Ekkremes) is assembling giant mecha out of smaller robots, Voltron-style. This idea comes with a host of questions: how do we differentiate it from equipment and auras? How do we make the properties of the combined creature immediately obvious to the eye? What is the most intuitive way for the assembly process to work?

YMTC- Text Submissions

Get Your Designs Critiqued

As discussed on the mothership, You Make The Card is now open for card submissions.

If you'd like other Goblin Artisans to consider and critique your design before you submit, post it in the comments below!

Weekend Art Challenge Review 041213—Anndr

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Set Design: Your Codename Here

Although we've decided to develop the set originally pitched under the name Ekkremes, the actual name of the set is likely to change as we work out its flavor. It is possible that our design will draw on elements from real-world cultures, just as Ravnica gets its mojo from early modern Prague and Kamigawa from medieval Japan. If it does, the name of the set will have to fit that culture. (Also, deciding how to pronounce "Ekkremes" is a daunting task for native English speakers!)

For the time being, we should come up with a codename for this design project. Metaghost has proposed "Ice Cream", Jay likes "Macross", and I'm hoping that one of our readers can come up with something snappier. Since this is a standalone set, it doesn't need to be one of a triplet. Any ideas?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 041213—Anndr

Weekend Art Challenge
Click through to see this weekend's art and the design requirements for your card submission, due Monday morning. Remember that you may ask for feedback by mid-day Sunday and redesign your submission once after you get it.

Set Design: The Decision

Faithful readers, we've been pondering the question of which of our three set pitches to design. We looked at your feedback on the previous thread. We considered your answers to the many unanswered questions that these sets posed. Most of all, we looked at the proposed cards and mechanics. We even had an online playtesting session to determine whether our intuition for how various mechanics would play were correct.

Guided by this information, the Goblin Artisans authors have made a decision on which set we'll lead as a design project. And that set is...

CCDD 041213—Eartheater & Sylvan Planter

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/12/2013 - It's been a while since we've talked about dig, and while there's not a whole lot to add, Chah's excellent recent articles about Frontier and gold as well as my own recent post about free cycling require me to share this thought: The reason that cycling usually has to cost mana doesn't apply to dig because dig can't get you spells, it can only undo mana screw (or help you turn spells into lands to help you cast more important spells).

Uses of Gold Counters Part 2/2 — Color Pie Issues, Gold for Balancing an Effect, "Cash In" Mechanic, Mana Outlets

This is my second part of my discussion on how Devon Rule's Gold counters from the Great Designer Search 2 can be used. The first part mostly established that while it is a mana producing mechanic, they can be used to a different purpose than Eldrazi Spawn tokens. With this part, I would like to expand on some more topics related to Gold counters including color pie issues, the use of gold as a balancing effect, a mechanic for cashing in unwanted cards, and mana outlets for excess mana.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

CCDD 041113—Violent Justice

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/11/2013 - This card could be black or red, but if white were to do direct creature damage outside of combat, I expect this is about as close as you'd get.

Exploring the Afterlife Pt 1/3

I'd like to talk about some mechanics for representing the afterlife in an Egyptian set.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CCDD 041013—Grim Augury

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/10/2013 - I was ready to post this oldish design when I saw a way to improve it.

Weekend Art Challenge Review 040513—Dragon's Maze

Here's the challenge we'll be reviewing today.

(It's kind of fun mimicking Jay!)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

CCDD 040913—Farhaven Wanderer

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/9/2013 - I made these in July while anticipating the eventual release of Return to Ravnica. I wanted to create a cycle of monocolored creatures with an activated ability that works with either of the allied colors and an upgraded version of that ability that works with both (IE, in a three-color deck). I didn't particularly expect anything like that in Ravnica, but it was an interesting exercise just the same. Some of these are much better/worse than others, showing how tough it can be to make a tight cycle sometimes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

CCDD 040813—Colorless Frontier

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/8/2013 - What if we use the colorless-matters idea from Ekkremes for Frontier? Most Westerns are set in desert areas where life is hard not just for the people, but for everything. What if that were because there's not as much rich mana around? Explore with me.

Uses of Gold Counters Part 1/2—Goldgrab, Mini-quests, and Bounties

The Gold counter mechanic was created by Devon Rule and his team in the Great Designer Search 2. In Devon's set, various cards would grant players Gold counters, which could be spent to pay for mana or life payments.

I believe Gold counters is a mechanic that has many uses that lead to exciting game play. Here are some ideas for using Gold in our Western-themed set, Frontier.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Weekend Art Challenge 040513—Dragon's Maze

Weekend Art Challenge
Jay is swamped with work this weekend, so I'll be filling in this week.

Click through to see this weekend's art and the design requirements for your card submission, due Monday morning. Remember that you may ask for feedback by mid-day Sunday and redesign your submission after you get it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

CCDD 040413—Trees

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/4/2013 - My biggest complaint with the game of Magic is how often mana screw and mana flood can decide games. Yes, it's important that your mana curve isn't guaranteed and that there's something that can give new players a chance against old players, and to give players a scapegoat for their mistakes. But sometimes it just wastes your time. I want to see less of it, and for that reason, I support including some kind of smoothing mechanic in most if not every set.

Cycling is the cleanest mechanic for this and today's card is meant to explore the question,
What if cycling was free sometimes?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

CCDD 040313—Lightning Wake

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/3/2013 - My day disappeared again so instead of jabbering on, I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader. This card seems pretty busted. How would you improve it?

Ankh-Theb: The Restless Dead

HV: This pitch is by Antny.  Here are the pitches from rounds onetwo, and three.

What are the major mechanical themes in the set according to your vision?

Mummify (all), Monuments (W/B ), River Flooding (U/G ), Proliferate
(all ), Vandalise(R )

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

CCDD 040213—Fiery Likeness

Cool Card Design of the Day
4/2/2013 - It's been a nasty day at work, so I'll put something cool and self explanatory here today.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Frontier: Fall of the Eldrazi

HV: This pitch is by Antny. Here are the pitches from rounds onetwo, and three.

What are the major mechanical themes in the set according to your vision?

Large creatures (not just Eldrazi), supported by dig, gold counters and hideaways.
Bounty, wither, annihilator, protection from colorless/all colors.

Weekend Art Challenge Review 032913—Maze Champion

Weekend Art Challenge Review
Here's the challenge we're reviewing today.