Wednesday, May 16, 2018

GDS3 Preliminary Challenge (Scott Wilson)

Continuing in our series on approaches to the Design Test, Scott Wilson has provided some insight into his process. Click through and check it out.

(Scott's designs and the judge's commentary can be found here)

I started this challenge by going through the custom Magic sets I've created before and picking out my favorite cards and fan-favorite cards. Easily Exitea-bull, Oasis Mirage, and Draft Chaff Blast were the first three cards in, and once they were there, the rest of the color and card type requirements mostly fell into place.

Easily Excitea-bull and Oasis Mirage were both very similar to the cards they were based off of, but there was a problem with Draft Chaff Blast. Here's what the original looked like:

As you can see, this can get any card (at random) from your sideboard and cast it. It was originally the card for Metronome in my Pokémon Red/Blue Set, and it was not only one of my favorite cards in the set, but a fan favorite as well.

However, while it's a fun card in Limited, it's far too dangerous for Constructed. All you'd need to do is put a single Ancestral Vision in your sideboard, cast it as X equaling zero, and then you get a guaranteed two-mana draw three.

Same thing goes for other mana costs: if Thoughtseize is your only one-mana cost sideboard card, you'll get it; if Disenchant is your only two-mana cost sideboard card, you'll get it. Not only does it destroy the random fun of the card, but it gives blue/red access to effects it shouldn't have.

Needless to say, it had to be changed. I played around with a lot of other options, but I eventually went with the safest version that I submitted. It's still fine, but not as cool as before, hence why I ranked it down to #8 in my final submission, after it had been top three at the start.

Most of the other cards were created on the spot to fill out the remaining color/card type requirements. The only other card that has a decent story behind it is the Planeswalker Elixa DuMort.

Exlia started off as a mournful Necromancer that was desperate to restore his/her dead love back to life. It looked something like this:

The idea behind it was kind of cool, but it had a couple of issues. (1) It wasn't really red. Sure, the Horror has haste in the ultimate, but black has haste too. (2) It needed a lot to go right to work. You not only need a creature in your graveyard, but it has to be a Human. Sure, I could get rid of the Human requirement, but then it would be a different card. I could also just make it exile an opponent's creature when it comes into play, but then it feels even more mono-black, and I needed a red/black one. 

So I scrapped it. But still, I liked the idea of a necromancer Planeswalker that "leveled up" to make bigger creatures. Rather than going the complicated Human route however, I just thought, "What's more fun and cool to resurrect than humans? How about… dragons!" 

And thus Elixa was born. I'm really happy with her +1 ability, combining black and red in a nice, clean way. I think the judges were right that her ultimate should have paid off with the graveyard more, perhaps making a token whose power and toughness is equal to the number of cards in all graveyards when it came into play? I'm not sure, but as long as it's still big and terrifying, I'd be happy with it.


  1. I wish Easily Excitea-bull had the creature type Ox.

    Oasis Mirage is a rad card; I think you made the right decision to split hairs with "play".

  2. "What's more fun and cool to resurrect than humans? How about… dragons!"

    I love hearing about these moments, when one of the biggest features of a card suddenly falls into place out of a lot of other iteration.

  3. Planeswalker designs are hard and Rakdos designs are additionally hard (concepts like board longevity, protecting themselves, and even basic ideas like "loyalty" don't really fit well with where the colors intersect). I'm glad they liked Elixa, because she seems fun.

  4. Heartbroken Necromancer is charming!