Monday, August 31, 2020

The Great Redesigner Search: Circus

Welcome back to the Great Redesigner Search, a series where I redo all of my GDS3 entries. This week I'll be going over everything from round 2, the top-down challenge set on the circus plane of Bigtopia. Though I placed in 2nd, there were a lot of misses and room for improvement. As always, you can read my original entries and judge commentary here.

Trapeze Artist

This is the first of my GRS entries that's completely unchanged. I considered making it a 1/4, but I felt like that would make the decision of what to give flying too obvious and make it too hard to interact with. This way, you have a bit more of a 50/50 decision as to what to target with this card's ability.

Sword Swallowing

This was in my file originally, and I'm kicking myself that I passed this up for a card from Homelands with a cantrip attached to it. I think this is both elegant and flavorful, and it's one of the cards that I'm happiest about that never made it into an actual GDS3 submission. I don't remember exactly why I didn't go with this, but I think it had something to do with Feats of Strength being too similar and having to keep the card I didn't know how to replace in time.

We were supposed to create coherent set themes that could be summarized with our card entries; I was so busy trying to meet all of the other requirements that it sort of fell by the wayside, but there was a vague +1/+1 counter theme going on in green and black (see also: Knife Thrower) that this would have functioned well at. I don't think this would be enough to convince the judges that all of my cards played into specific themes, but it would have been a good start. This was probably my biggest error in judgment in the submission.

Tip: Someone has to design the D-level Limited fodder, so start practicing designing that Limited fodder in creative and interesting ways.

Feats of Strength

The cost reduction was pretty well-received here, and fit with the +1/+1 counters I had running around the set as well. It was the effect that didn't work the first time around, so I changed it to make it more appealing and feel more like an actual feat of strength.

There's a surprisingly small space for splashy green spell effects that affect a single creature. Usually you get Overrun effects at that space, but it doesn't fit the concept of a circus being individuals standing out in their own way. There's also narrower things like artifact/enchantment destruction, card draw, and so on, but none of them really feel like a "feat of strength" as much as a fight or punch effect. Not doing that in my original design was a major slip-up.

Knife Thrower

I noticed during this round that Jay Treat submitted a similar Knife Thrower, but one that used my Rogue tribal mechanics from the previous round. I was deeply flattered that he liked my designs so much he was willing to use them in the highest-stakes custom Magic competition there is, and I regret not mentioning that to him until now. It was one of the highlights of my Top 8 journey.

Anyway, I added a mana to the activated ability to prevent some "gotcha" moments.

Three Rings

One of the big issues with my original Three Rings submission was that all of the cards were exiled face-up. This made it very easy for your opponent to tell when you were running out of gas and made your gameplan very predictable. It took a lot of finessing to get the cards to exile face-down because I needed to link "you can look at the cards" to two separate abilities, but I ended up with something that I'm pretty sure can still be printed in the space on a Magic card.

I added the fourth ability so Three Rings wouldn't serve as a way to never deck out and make the game last forever. I don't know what deck would use an effect like that but I assume it would be completely miserable.

Clown Car

The original version of this was a victim of what I felt was the biggest logistical issue in the top 8 – unclear communication about round rules. In previous submissions that had card type limits, the judges specified that trying to get around these limits by doing things like "a sorcery that makes creature tokens and does nothing else" wouldn't work. This is the primary reason I didn't make Clown Car a Vehicle in my file – I had already made three creatures, and it was ambiguous as to whether the judges would feel like a Vehicle is essentially the same as an artifact creature, so I made it a regular artifact just to be safe. This is a more conventional top-down clown car design and what I would have made if I had certainty that making a Vehicle was fine under the circumstances.

This is the kind of dumb card I like, where you can throw all of your creatures into it and ram a 12/1 car into your opponent's blockers.

Human Cannonball

Mythics are the rarity I have the most trouble designing for. Uncommons and rares are super easy, because you have a lot of room to be complex with them. Commons are tougher, but I'm good at elegant cards from my work designing party games, and since their only goal is to be functional game components they don't have that many expectations. Mythics have to be clean, clear, exciting, and appealing enough to get players to crack more packs, so I find them difficult. My original Human Cannonball exemplified my troubles, as I suffered from Fancy Design Syndrome and made a "web comic" card that wouldn't be fun to actually play.

This version is more of a conventional burn spell, but it still gets across the sense of "launching yourself at your opponent and their board" in a fun way, and I think it's a very appealing Tammy card, whom mythics are aimed at anyway.

Redundo the Magician

Redundo seemed reasonably fine in the original file, so I just put in a couple of tweaks. I made the U activation not bounce things, because that would be miserable to play against if you didn't have removal, and changed the wording to be more in line with effects that already exist. It's fun to get fancy with formatting (see: Pick Your Poison) but it's a lot easier on the Rules Manager if you work within the game's boundaries if you can.

I do miss the bounce effect a little, because that was the classic magician trick of making things disappear, but good gameplay comes first. Also, the scry could be interpreted as "is THIS your card?"

1 comment:

  1. Oh, cool. Yeah, a lot of those come well into focus with some tweaks to bring up the other aspects of the card to the standard of the core idea. I agree, Trapeze Artist is still just perfect :)

    I think when I do amateur card designs I need to figure out a checklist for "what will other people see first" to avoid problems where I have a cool idea but put it in a card where it doesn't quite fit, or I tweak a card too many times that the final idea isn't very sensible any more.