Wednesday, May 23, 2018

GDS3 Reflections: Scott Wilson, Challenge #2

Scott Wilson is back to provide us with some more insight into how he approached the GDS challenges. Click through to read about how he crafted his take on Bigtopia. Scott's designs and what the judges had to say can be found on his official GDS page

By Scott Wilson

For this challenge, I started by coming up with designs for all 25 circus card names. Then I went through them, picked out my favorites, and whittled them down from there.

As I pruned the list, the world of Bigtopia (the name of the circus plane) began to take shape. The multicolor cards seemed like the most fun, and the Escalate cards felt like they fit both flavorfully (circus acts "escalating" in excitement) and mechanically (giving a light multicolor component to otherwise mono-color cards).

Of course it still took a lot of playtesting and iterations before I got the cards to how they looked in the final submission. Here's what some of them were like in earlier drafts:

Old Version of Feats of Strength

This was a cool idea, but I wanted to make Feats of Strength green/red to play into the color divisions I'd set up (since green/red was the "strongmen faction"). Plus I wanted a rare Escalate card, so this one had to change. If I hadn't used Escalate as my mechanic, then I probably could have tuned this a bit and made it work, but I'm still happy with how the final version turned out.

Submitted version of Feats of Strength

Since I had Escalate in the set, I figured it would be cool to have a mythic rare that played with the mechanic. And what better way to play with Escalate than by giving you ALL the modes for free!

Then I thought… why stop there? Why not let you choose more modes on ALL modal spells? Just thinking about casting a four-mode Cryptic Command had me drooling.

Thus the original Cyrus was born.

Old version of Cyrus McBride

But there were two issues: (1) I had no idea if this worked in the rules. The wording was probably off and I had no idea how to fix it. (2) As cool as it would be to cast a four-mode Cryptic Command, this set wasn't about Cryptic Command – it was about the circus. I was losing focus on what the set wanted to be because I was getting distracted.

So I pulled back, recalibrated, and came up with the completely-different Cyrus that worked with the themes of the set.

Submitted Version of Cyrus McBride

Since my version of Bigtopia was based around rainbow colors, that meant even the artifacts had color. I wanted to submit some colored artifacts, and I came up with two: Circus Peanuts and Clown Car.

Clown Car, the colored artifact that didn't make it into the final submission...

...and Circus Peanuts, the one that did.

Myself and my playtesters loved Clown Car… but there was just one problem: we could only use ONE returning mechanic in our set. After confirming with Mark Rosewater via a message, I found out I couldn't use both Escalate AND Crew; one of them had to go.

Since I felt Escalate was integral to my set, I decided to cut Crew. That meant Clown Car had to be cut, and I replaced it with the rare land Cyrus's Circus Tent instead.

I don't think Cyrus's Circus Tent is as interesting or fun a card as Clown Car, but it still plays into the set's multicolor theme (although I didn't realize all the horrific rules interactions at the time).

I made it legendary so that it wouldn't create a paradox when two were out…
failing to remember that Reflecting Pool was a thing.

In the end, I was happy with my submission. The judges were critical of Bigtopia being a five-color set, which I completely understand, but it was based on my own experience absolutely loving to draft five-color sets. I loved Modern Masters 2017, and I think that same kind of draft-all-the-colors fun could be brought to a Standard set too.

Or maybe I'm just crazy and should run away with the circus!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on winning this challenge.

    I will forever love anyone who makes mana dorks or rocks with "turn on" modes.

    I made a Manalith that was also an equipment for hex sake so kudos on the peanats.

    Great flavor to .(Althoug why does the elephant show up AFTER the nuts are gone? Poor elephant :( )