Monday, December 11, 2017

Introduce Yourself!

Goblin Artisans is more than four years old. It's high time we had an open "get to know you" thread!

So, I know you like CCG design, but who are you people? Where do you come from? What are you interested in? What is your life like, when you're not brainstorming Magic cards on the internets?

Lurkers, now's your chance to come out into the daylight! We don't bite.

[Originally Posted July 2015. In the interests of making this thing findable, this has been bumped.]


  1. I'll start things off. I'm HavelockV, one of the co-founders of this here blog. I’ve been playing since Fallen Empires. I’m a Timmy who loves building up insurmountable advantages. Twenty years ago, this meant lots of forests for my Gaea’s Lieges; today, it’s a nice full graveyard for my commander, Sedris.

    When I’m not playing Magic, I’m a freelance singer. My specialty is historically informed performance of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, which is the most awesome thing in the world. My signature dish is saucy Chinese eggplant, my favorite webcomic is Scary Go Round, and I’m an aficionado of the MIT Mystery Hunt.

  2. I'm Reuben Covington, host of "Re-Making Magic", a podcast about game design and custom magic cards. I'm a timmy/spike who mostly plays limited formats and loves the subtle developmental design that goes into making them tick. I also love flavor that pulls at your emoitions while being smoothly integrated with the gameplay design.

    I've been playing since Scars of Mirrodin and you can find me usually on the MTGsalvation forums under the name Doombringer, where I strive to improve the custom card community and help newcomers interested in our niche.
    I work on guides, primers and programming scripts that can help make custom card creation accessible and easier to playtest.

    I'm currently in the late stages of development and playtesting of my custom card set Dreamscape which is designed to make magic feel alien and fresh, forcing players to re-evaluate the worth and plausibility of certain interactions while still being fun.

    When I'm not playing magic I'm a contract games programmer and designer currently working on a training simulation game for commercial use. I also make small art games, cook and swim.

    1. You can contact me at the following places:
      Twitter: @reubencovington

      I also post designs up on the /custommagic subreddit which is a cool place to check out for quick and dirty design feedback.

    2. Also you can find my set Dreamscape at:
      Feel free to take a look at the visual spoiler, ask questions or leave feedback.

  3. I'm Jacob Kopczynski, and while I was slightly involved on the sidelines of GDS2 (I think I tried to get approximately *everyone* to include Splice in their sets) I hadn't heard of Goblin Artisans until about a year ago. I'm mostly a Johnny/Spike, though until recently my favorite format was EDH, so there's a real splash of Timmy there as well. I like elegant, versatile effects, and tend to work with existing tools rather than create wild new things.

    When I'm not designing Magic cards, I design some other card games. (I have two good prototypes, an auction set-collection game called Zaibatsu and a geometric game where each card played shifts the board Scrambled Streets.) I'm going to get back on getting those published as soon as I've finished finding a day job.

    Speaking of day job: I'm a newish, unemployed web developer (Rails and JS) in Berkeley, California. (Anyone who happens to work near San Francisco and can help me get an interview is awesome and wonderful.) I also am involved with the Bayesian Area/LW/rationality community, aka 'I think maybe too much about thinking and how to get better at it'.

  4. Hi! I'm Luke Paulsen, and I have more fingers and toes than I've played real games of Magic in my life. On the other hand, my credentials as a spectator and amateur designer go way back. I've spent time on the fringes of several casual Magic-playing groups, but I really got into Magic and specifically card design via the Daily MTG site (just as GDS2 was wrapping up, unfortunately) and enjoyed the original Duels of the Planeswalkers game for a while. Despite my lack of experience, I'm pretty confident in labeling myself a Timmy-Spike with a heaping side of Melvin.

    In real life I'm a 23-year-old software engineer, hailing from Minnesota and located in Mountain View, California as of about a year ago. (I don't really know anyone in the web-development world, though-- sorry Czynski.) My hobbies include reading, writing, and Krosan Tusker's activated ability.

    1. Wow, blast from the past! 2 years later I've got a regular playgroup (we do Commander and drafts) and have been playing at a local game store since Kaladesh or so. My own blogging at has mostly trailed off, but I've posted 80-some cycles of varying quality, two complete custom sets based on ancient Rome and the Italian Renaissance respectively, and a partly complete (still actively developed) large set called "Escape from Zendikar".

  5. I'm Tommy Occhipinti, I'm a math professor starting a tenure track position at Luther College in Iowa this year and celebrating my sixth anniversary with my wonderful husband Tristan today! My research is in an area of number theory known as arithmetic geometry.

    I've been playing Magic since sometime around Fourth Edition / Ice Age, with some hiatuses (although none in a while). For a while I've been primarily a limited player (and a cube designer and advocate on Board Game Geek) but lately I've been dipping my toe into some constructed formats and investing in an actual collection on MTGO (you can find me on there as deliriknight).

    For about 5 years now my husband and I have been working on a game design (playtest name Crystal Clash) that ambitions to provide a cube like experience in a box for people with no Magic or CCG experience (and presumably also for people who are already into that sort of thing!).

    Amateur Magic design scatches the same brain cells, so I enjoy contributing here, particularly on the WACs, both as a submitter and commentator. I've done a ton of playtesting of cards from my game with a variety of players, so I like to think I can provide some insightful commentary (your mileage my vary).

    I'm quite active on Board Game Geek (delirimouse on there if you want to follow) and I have a large board game collection (300+ games). You can see what I like and what I don't by looking up my ratings on BGG, but my interests are pretty wide.

    I also quite enjoy video games, and I recently finished the Souls series (including Bloodborne). I also enjoy walking, hiking, and good TV (okay, maybe I'm not that picky, I like a lot of TV).

    1. I forgot to mention, I'm either a Johnny/Spike or Spike/Johnny depending on my whim/mood. I'm a long time Limited Resources listener and recommend it strongly to anyone who wants to take CCG design seriously.

      Also I like to talk about myself, a lot, apparently!

    2. I would love to hear more about Crystal Clash. I recently completed the Battlebox specifically because it allows something akin to a Cubelike game of Magic without the associated minimum number of players large amount of time, if there was a product that let me get that experience with anyone, even non-Magic players, I would buy three.

    3. Hey Devin, I wrote a bit about it here recently and hope to have a set of rules that is up to date available shortly, though that has been delayed by the move. If you want an out of date set to get an idea, feel free to contact me privately. If you want to see what some of our cards look like, you can see randomly generated boosters here: . (Just click "Log in as Guest").

      People keep finding other things to mention that I forgot to, so I keep wanting to update. I'm also on Twitter as @delirimouse!

  6. Hi all!

    I'm Jack, I work as a software engineer in Cambridge UK.

    I first saw a game of magic a long time ago sometime in the late 90s, when some friends at school played and it looked intriguing, but I didn't get into it. I was really introduced at Alex's games evening after Mirrodin came out, and have played on and off since, almost entirely casually.

    I love design almost more than play, which is a problem for my development skills :)

    I'm messed around with a couple of self-designed sets, but haven't taken any to completion.

  7. Hi everyone, I'm Ben Williams, and I've been playing Magic since Time Spiral. I'm primarily a spike, but I also have strong Timmy tendencies. When I'm not playing, reading about, or listening to, Magic (ok, also when I am) I'm a software engineer in Binghamton, NY.
    As much as I enjoy seeing all of your sweet and interesting designs, and even joining in occasionally, I've come to realize that my strengths lean much more toward development than design, which is not to say that I'll stop trying.

    1. I think GA benefits from having developer-inclined commenters a lot -- often people have a really interesting DESIGN, but then no-one is sure how strong it is, or whether it would make an interesting/varied/broken/stultifying format...

    2. Absolutely.
      You've surely noticed I often fall back on Dev comments in reviews when I run out of relevant Design comments.

    3. I think good development skills are an essential part of being a good designer. Since new world order, in my opinion, the largest changes to the game have been in development philosophy, from adjusting what common removal spells look like to removing 4 mana board sweepers to removing one mana mana dorks. There are some decisions I'm less fond of, like the proliferation of limited super bombs, and some I wish they would remember themselves, like giving archetypes to the ten two color pairs (something I think they got right exactly once, but I'd love to see them nail it again).

      These decisions all have such far-reaching implications on how games of Magic play out in both limited and constructed that it benefits both design and development to plan for them earlier in the process.

  8. This is awesome. How lovely it is to learn more about our friends here! If anyone has a blog, tumblr, twitter account, please mention that too.

    I'm Jay Treat. I had the good fortune to be a finalist in GDS2 and my early elimination along with the discovery of an online community of Magic design enthusiasts motivated me to start taking game design seriously and to help co-found this site. Goblin Artisans has been an absolute blast thanks to all of you amazing people and I've learned more than I can say or even grasp.

    My micro-game Cunning Folk funded on Kickstarter in May, Merchants of Araby should launch later this year or early next year, and I've got a few more games on the cusp of getting publisher contracts. Cahoots is available now on iOS and Legacy of the Slayer at Find all my games at

    @WizardsFamiliar is my Twitter account for Magic, but @jtreat3 is where I talk about other games and design, as well as food, nature, life, and activism. More of that on Tumblr:

    I live just north of Philadelphia PA where I get paid to develop in Actionscript and Javascript. I love almost all types of games, enjoy nature, climbing, volleyball, church.

    1. Oh yeah, I built a deck-building tool called Wizard's Familiar where you can view decklists visually, create decks for any format, goldfish, and share your lists.

    2. Check out Merchants of Araby, a negotiation and engine-building game available now from Daily Magic Games.

  9. Greetings all! I'm Alex Churchill. Let's see, in chronological order... I've lived in Britain all my life. I've been programming computers since age 7. I've been a Christian since age 19. I studied mathematics at Cambridge for 4 years and have lived in Cambridge ever since I graduated, um, 14 years ago.

    I've been interested in board games all my life, been playing Magic for 17 years, and have been hosting a weekly board games evening for about 16 years. My board games collection looks like this. Yes, that is one shelf for Magic. I spend way, way more time thinking about Magic than I do actually playing it, sadly. I've been running for nearly 5 years, after I wanted somewhere to collect and track comments on my first custom set and so wrote myself a website for it; turns out other people who're making custom sets also like having a place to gather and track feedback and plans :)

    And I'm very excited that Steam Works, the board game I designed, is being released this autumn!

    1. In psychographic terms I'm a Johnny/Melvin in theory (I love cycles, elegant designs, exploring odd consequences of the rules, assembling synergistic combos etc) but more of a social Timmy in practice: my favourite games are the ones where all players have fun, nobody gets manascrewed, the game is tight and back-and-forth, everyone's deck gets to do their thing, and it doesn't really matter who wins.

      Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier that I designed a universal Turing machine made out of Magic cards and, a few years earlier, a random Magic card generator.

    2. That random generator is yours?! I loved mashing the refresh button and seeing what crazy things popped out. I trust you've heard about the recurrent neural network making (ridiculous) cards now?

    3. Just got this from Alex's random generator:

      Pay 1 life, T, sacrifice ~this~: search your library for a land card and put it into the battlefield, then shuffle your library
      --Even the bravest shop may catch the best horn
      – Nemesis, the great elder


    4. Land
      ~this~ enters the battlefield tapped.
      T: add 2 to your mana pool. Spend this mana only on activated abilities.

      Is it crazy that this is printable? Or is it just inevitable?

  10. Hi, I'm Piersabato, I'm 24. I currently study as an Architectural Engineer. I'm from a town near Salerno, in south Italy.
    I play Magic since Avacyn Restored prerelease, and from the start I was interested by the complex yet elegant system of rules that bring together the game. I love elegant and simple cards to the point of boringness. I don't play very often, but I love reading and thinking about Magic a lot. I'm absolutely a Melvin, but I'm lately somewhat interested in Vorthosian matters. I used to be a Timmy/Johnny, but now I consider myself a Johnny/Spike. I play almost exclusively Limited (I too love LR), I also like Commander and Pauper.
    Beside Magic, I enjoy games in general, also watching TV series with my gf, playing football with buddies, reading, and eating good food.

  11. Hey all, my name is... well Devin Green. I have been playing since Odyssey, though I took a long break and only recently returned to Magic during Scars. Also, when I say 'playing since Odyssey' I mean I had a Stag Beetle deck which ran 15 Forests and every Green card I owned. Nowadays I'm a Vorthos/Spike who drafts control in every format and builds EDH around a theme.

    Three years ago I submitted a set to this blog which was considered for a community set-design project. I recently 'finished' the set and I've been 'previewing' it here:

    In real life I'm a writer and aspiring scientist. I'm collaborating on a comic with my sister which should be rolling out online sometime in the next two months. Academically I focus on measurement and public perceptions of science, a personal fascination that is marginally harder to explain to people than Magic is, and I try adamantly with both.

    I studied Medieval History in Vermont as an undergrad and I recently moved back to my college's town where I've reconnected with a lot of my best friends from school. Yesterday I made spicy habanero jelly. Life is going well.

  12. My name is Jean-Sébastien Girard and I live in Montreal, Quebec, though I was born in Quebec City. I began playing magic with Dragon's Maze, though I'd been reading about magic for a while at the time. I came to it reading MaRo design artices because they are amongst the few TCG-oriented game design articles I could find. At the time I was attempting to design a TCG based on the Tv Tropes websites.

    I've started multiple custom set projects (Ekkremes, Ankh-Duat, Suvnica) that were all given up, usually because I tend meld in too many themes (i.e. Ankh-Duat had semi-hybrid cards, enemy colors and tribal all as important elements of the design...). Ekkremes was the basis for what is currently the Tesla projects at GA.

    Offline I'm an unemployed French/English translator and I work part-time in a PR firm preparing press reviews. I'm a huge reader fascinated with language and linguistics, constructed languages and biological sciences, particularly plant taxonomy and nomenclature (I even have a published paper to my name).

  13. Hi all! What a diverse group we are. My real name is Anastase, I am from Greece and France, and am striving to get to acedemic tenure in statistical modeling of the environment in Paris... So mostly pilling research contracts for various entities.

    I love storytelling and game designing. I also spend a lot of time on 4X games and mods thereof, as well as doing karate and spending time with my friends/ girlfriend.

    As far as mtg is concerned I started during 4th edition, waaaaaaaay before I was able to really grasp this game. At the time I was an übertimmy. I have since gone on to embrace a more spike/jhony mentality, with decks that have to be able to win, but still be unique in their own ways.

    I often draw up cards and magic sets on my free time, then scrap them when I am dissatified. I attempted to start a blog about mtg CCDDs too, but I have abandoned it since. I might try to restart it, since I still have a lot of things I would like to see into cards...

  14. Hey, I'm Zach Howell, majoring in computer science at Drexel University (in Philadelphia), and making games - usually digital. Last year I released a mobile game Alchemia to Android; it's a real-time match-three game similar to Dots. ( I'm also working for a professor at Drexel this summer on a bunch of random grants and a game about taking pictures.

    I mostly play EDH and Limited, avoiding competitive Constructed formats for mostly budget reasons. I'm a Johnny/Spike and have loved deck construction since I got my first stack of blue cards in Scars of Mirrodin.

    Twitter: @hubatish

  15. Hello everyone! I'm Ben Nassau, a 22 year old grad student starting a math PhD in the fall at U of Delaware. I've been on GA for three years now (this being where I first started really getting involved on the site), and I'm really thankful I have because y'all are awesome.
    I really don't do much game design outside of GA, and as such this is a wonderful section of life and passion to be a part of. I play casually, mostly Commander and Draft now, and I think I'm a Johnny/Timmy though it fluctuates.

    Outside of Magic, I'm an activist, an actor, a storyteller, and a writer. You can find a bunch of my writing at which my fiance and I co-author.

    1. Cool to see someone else here going the math grad school route!

    2. Not to mention Richard Garfield, PhD (of math)! I even did number theory research undergrad (though I don't think it counts as arithmetic geometry?)

    3. Yeah, Richard Garfield and William Jokusch both have math PhDs.

      Really I do research in quite a few areas of math, but everyone always wants to know "what area are you in" so I tend to use that because it includes a bunch of what I do, but arithmetic geometry and I aren't exclusive.

      Do you know what you want to study in grad school?

    4. No idea. I'm interested in number theory and group theory and maybe complex analysis. In other words, just about everything.

      Rather than continue to take up this page, can we correspond over email? You can reach me at my blog's address (at) gmail (dot) com

      That goes for the rest of you as well!

  16. Hello all!

    I'm Mike. I'm the head of my department at a notable hydraulics distributor. I'm a 34 year old father of three. My son (14) has been playing for 8 years, my step daughter (11) about 3 (I to got her as soon as I could), and my little one (2.5) came home from the hospital in an "untap, upkeep, draw" onesie :) Much to my wife's chagrin, I spotted a box of cards in her living room on our first date. I subsequently married the hell out of her. Love you Skye

    I've been playing since Revised and designing since before the internet existed (at least in my part of Ohio). I followed the typical steps of designing first for the card, then cycles, up to expansions, blocks and now emotional responses and limited environments. My crates of Magic notebooks (dating back to '95 or '96) are filled with thousands of terrible ideas, but also equipment, curses, rudimentary planeswalkers, and host of single card designs that have seen print (parallel designs obviously). So, I keep at it. I must be doing something right.

    I made it through the entry stage of both GDS contests, but failed to advance past either multiple choice one point! Both times!

    If you check me out on Facebook, I have a handful of sets posted under my albums. Critiques and commentary are always appreciated :)

    1. "my little one (2.5) came home from the hospital in an "untap, upkeep, draw" onesie :)"
      On a similar note, is our firstborn, 4 years ago ;)

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  18. Happy Friday, everyone!

    I'm Nicholas Grayson. I'm originally from Minnesota. My family moved to Maryland in 1990. I went to college in the Boston area. I moved back to Maryland after graduation when I started dating a longtime friend, Dana, who eventually became my wife. We've been married 10 years this May. I work for a mortgage company as a Loan Verification Analyst. As you can tell, I am wicked old (36).

    I learned to play magic in 1994, and it has been a big part of my life ever sense. My first booster packs were The Dark. The first box I bought was Fallen Empires. My first tournament was the Tempest Prerelease (I opened a Tradewind Rider and Time Warp). I started designing cards with family and friends almost from the start.

    Nowadays, I attend FNM, Prerelease, Launch Day, Game Day for each new set, and at least one major tournament every year. But, since I'm a Johnny, I always brew decks, or am attracted to the most complicated combo decks. (At GP Richmond last year I brought Amulet Bloom with Gift Ungiven combo rather than Hive Mind combo. My Standard default is Jeskai Ascendancy combo.) So I don't win much.

    I love Goblin Artisans. I was one of the 101 GDS2 people, and my GDS2 world submission was full of so MANY design blunders. Even just stuff I liked that Maro would later go on record to say he disliked. This community has really allowed me to stop being precious about my designs, embrace iteration, and learn how to appeal to people who aren't me.

    Other than Facebook, (where I often write about FNM and Block design,) you can find me on Twitter @WUBRG.

    1. I'd like to second the suggestion to check out Nich's facebook - the Dragon's Maze redesign is eye-opening and full of great content.

    2. DGM Remixed was a phenomenal read. Highly recommended.

  19. Hi, all! Here's my intro:

    I started playing Magic with the Starter 2000 products. I've been off-and-on with playing Magic since then. I love playing Limited and Commander.

    In 2009, I won a card design contest hosted by Bragster / Wizards and got a trophy of my card for it.

    I competed in the GDS2 and made it to the Top 101.

    One of my designed card cycles during GDS2 was used by Devon Rule and was judged mostly-favorably by the GDS2 judges:

    I used to write for Red Site Wins with a column on designing a "four colors matters" Magic set and collaborating with my readers' feedback in doing so.

    I have my own Magic design blog:

    I'm active on Twitter (@bradleyrose) where I mostly talk about Magic in general.

    And, just recently, with the announcement of GDS3, I started a Magic design podcast called Beacon of Creation with Adam Victor Klesh (@madolaf on Twitter). You can find the podcast on Twitter (@magicdesigncast) or at this link:

  20. I can't believe I didn't do this last time around, but here we go.

    My name is Jay Zeffren. I was in the top 101 for GDS2, although I didn't make that final cut. During the contest I was somewhat active on twitter and the wiki assisting contestants.

    A few years later, I stumbled on GA and started participating in the weekend challenges. A little after that, I was reading a MaRo article and had the seed of the idea for Suvnica, which turned into a whole thing. I've been contributing to GA on and off since then.

    In no particular order, I'm a Johnny (with a side order of Timmy), a Lawyer, an Orthodox Jew, a Parent, and a giant fan of the Ninja Turtles.

    I'm a bit nomadic, and I've lived in St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and most recently Cleveland.

    Anticipate a lot of thought-exercise content from me for GDS3, both here and on twitter (@zefferal).

    And if you ever want to trade some cards, my want list is over at pucatrade at

  21. My name's Juliet, but most people call me Past.

    I'm a big fan of core sets (favorites: 7th & M13), precons, and Lorwyn. I followed along with GDS2 and submitted a few cards, but didn't make any splashes. Later I found GA, and I eventually helped out with the GAm13 project and learned a lot in the process. I have contentious ideas about the color pie and templating, and love themes.

    I'm a twentysomething who worked in nonprofits as a teacher for a few years before the money dried up. Now I'm back in the midwest working for a company based in New Jersey.

    You can find me on twitter @dromedary, where I'm usually talking about podcasts or soft cats or bad puns about literary fiction.

  22. Oh wow, this was a little bit ago. It's much nicer talking with people when you have some idea of who they are as well.

    Interesting how much my self-description would have changed. If anything I do even more design than playing now than I did then. But I've done more design of small non-magic games rather than just individual magic cards, and I feel I've a stronger idea of what to try to do, not just what I find cool.

    I'm never sure how to describe myself psycographically. I rarely actually make johnny decks, but I love the idea of finding some cool combination everyone passed by: that's the first thing I think of when I see a card, is this combo-broken in some way? When I'm playing, I often actually ENJOY timmy most, I love slapping down good stuff, and having "wow" moments. But I also have spike tendencies even though I never indulged them in tournament magic: in any game, it just feels weird *not* to look for the way to win.

  23. Hey all,

    Ryan Siegel-Stechler, 29, stumbled on GA a couple of years ago. Have done Design contests on and mtgsalvation for ages, but got bored of the repetitive format and wanted more of a community discussion - GA has been great for that. I just missed the signups for GDS2 but have joined GDS3. @siegelstechler on Twitter, where I mostly just retweet things the other artisans post and join their contests. (I don’t engage much on social media in general). Generally a Spike/Melvin with a Johnny streak, especially when teaching new players.

  24. Hi, I'm Scott. I'm old. I started playing Magic with "The Dark." And I was already an adult then, sooo ...

    I actually stopped playing back around Mercadian Masques and have only recently started getting interested again about a year or so ago. This probably makes me seem reeaaaally weird, but I'm actually more interested in the game as an observer and the design side than as a player. I actually prefer to watch folks play on Twitch than to play myself.

    I found y'all through Hipsters of the Coast.

  25. So I forgot to write something here when they repost it, but hey better late than never.

    My name is Jacques, and I'm a French guy in his twenties. I discovered Magic during Time Spiral, making me probably one of the youngest to the game here, and I seriously got into it with Khans of Tarkir (my first pre-release) !

    I just spent 9 months in Sweden, where I was cut from my usual playgroup and didn't got the chance to play as much Magic as I'd love to (I however got the chance to face Joel Larsson at the final of a pre-release ! - but guess what, I lost). Anyway, this forced isolation, combined with my passion for Magic, led me to path of learning about Magic design. And I found it delightful. I've spent many months gathering knowledge, from Maro/WotC and the community, mostly silently. And it's crazy, when I think about it, how much I learnt about game design in general by doing so.

    Now I feel I've matured. With the recent announcement of GDS3, I wanted to get involved in the community, even if I can't participate in the contest. But this won't prevent me from joining the fun, and I'll be more than happy to share my thoughts and discuss with you in such a prestigious place that Goblin Artisans is !

    You can find me : @MrVovoda on twitter, /u/Vovoda on Reddit (where I mainly follow /r/GDS3 and /r/custommagic), and Voda on the Custom Magic and GDS3 discord.

    May your cards always fit your sleeves.