Saturday, March 13, 2021

Weekend Design Challenge 031421 - Pi

Hey Artisans! Click through to see this weekend's design challenge. Your mission is to design a custom Magic card that follows the guidelines. Over the course of the weekend, give feedback to your fellow designers on their designs and incorporate their feedback to iterate on your own. I'll try to offer some feedback of my own starting on Monday.

Just Desserts is an adorable Un-design but its use of pi is, I'm sorry to say, utterly irrelevant to the gameplay. The reminder text's reminder text isn't kidding about the "smidgen". Even with three Furnace of Rath effects on the board, all the decimal part would do is bump the spell's damage from 24 to 25.

Design an Un-card, not red and not an instant, that uses or references pi somehow. For bonus points, find a way to make the player care that it's pi rather than, say, 3.

Good luck, have fun, and have a well-rounded Pi Day!


  1. Making a card that references π? Easy. Could make a green spider with π toughness. Call it a π-der or something. Making a card that actually cares about it using π rather than 3? I’m at a loss.
    Like, I could have a part of the set care about π. Give another creature “protection from integers” and so on. But having a self contained card mechanically care about π seems like a daunting task.

    So, here I go:
    Rounding error | 2G
    All instances of “3” and “three” are replaced with π.
    All instances of Pie are replaced with tree

    1. This does approximately nothing, but I gather that's the point. It made me smile and reminded me of By Gnome Means.

      If you wanted to make the idea more relevant in general, I like the idea of "protection from integers". Similarly you could make a card that let you round non-integers up or down at will.

      I assume that last line isn't a typo? If so, I look forward to seeing Piefolk in the next Un-set. :-)

    2. The problem with the “protection from integers” card is that, that would require more than one card. The challenge stated “create an UN-card”. Which is one card.
      Something similar would be to ask someone to design a *single* card that mechanically cared about itself having a picture of a wolf in it. (Or something similarly specific)

      That last line was definitely intentional, but you read it wrong. You would get cards like “bake into a tree” and so on

  2. Oh, interesting. I'm fascinated by including maths-y numbers in magic, although when I've tried before, it had indeed been really hard to make the particular number matter, rather than just "3 and a bit" or "lots." I will see what I can come up with.

    Lava had a good idea resetting a lot of other cards to use pi.

    1. Darn, I came up with an idea I mostly liked, but I forgot the constraint was "not red" not "not damage". I previously came up with:

      Pi-rite Prospector 2R
      Creature - Goblin Pi-rate
      Irrational obsession -- {T}: Reveal the top card of your library, then scry 1. Create a treasure token for each digit in the number on that card with the most digits.
      "Lands, you don't want those. {R} has no digits. 1 or {2}, they have one digit. 11, there's your two digits. {1000000} has seven digits, that's good. pi has an infinite number of digits, that's the real good stuff."
      -- Skirk Prospector, flavour text writer

      I tried to make a card which had a flavour, and would do something if you threw it into a deck with a minimum amount of deckbuilding, because it rewards you for playing most non-land cards, but if you can get any cards with double-digit numbers, that's better. But you could also try to build a combo with BIG numbers, including multiple copies of itself.

      I'm not sure about the balance, either the cost of the base version, or the chance of getting infinite mana by discarding one of these to the other. But I don't think that's the most important thing, if the concept makes sense we can tweak the in-practice development strength.

      This isn't completely valid because it cares about any irrational (or 1/3 or 1/7) number, but I thought that might be the best I could do. I did try to find a version that cared about pi, by considering things like "the area of cards with words like circle, square, hex[agon] on", or other numeric facts about multiples of pi, like the "each turn drop one card onto a row of adjacent sideways cards, get [something] if it overlaps only one card" or "each player thinks of a number at random. If they have no common divisors..." but nothing sounded very natural.

      I will post a valid entry tonight if I can think of one, but I may not be able to :)

    2. OK, attempt at a valid entry meeting the conditions.

      ~ ETBs tapped.
      When you cast a spell, if the mana value is the next number in the list 31415926..., draw a card. Otherwise, sacrifice CARDNAME.
      "Pi-lot your pi-ratical group-pis to pi-land in the pi seas to pi-le on pi-leasurable pi-cadillos such as pi-lenty of pie!"
      -- Extract from Pi-land Island Tourist S-pi-el

      What do most people know about pi? Only the digits. Probably more people recognise the digits than can actually tell you more than "to do with circles". So lets make the card about that. Slightly inspired by A.Charantonis, but trying to make a take on the premise that fits the things I wanted to go for.

    3. My main issue was do people have the info of more than the first two digits? This is a good solution, but I feel the card is jenny to the extreme.

    4. Sorry, I don't understand, which card did you mean?

      "This is a good solution, but I feel the card is jenny to the extreme."

      That is usually how my cards go wrong :)

    5. The pi land one. The other one was a bit confusing in it wording and I am unsure I understood how it works.

    6. *sigh* I need to be a lot lot better at creating comprehensible rules.

      I think un-sets are especially hard because you want to make something that looks maths-y to non-mathematicians but isn't wrong if a mathematician sees it; and to write things that make sense in the spirit of the rules, not always the letter, but without creating ambiguities in actual play.

      It obviously doesn't apply retroactively, but for what's it's worth, my intent for the Pi-rite Prospector was, if you reveal a card with a "1" "5", "0", "9" or {3}, {5} etc on it, you make one treasure token. Reveal a card with a 10, 20, {10}, {11} etc on it, you make two treasure tokens. Reveal a card with 100 on it, you make three treasure tokens. Reveal a card with {1000} on it, make four treasure tokens. etc. (But if a card has a one-digit power AND a one-digit toughness AND a one-digit number in the mana cost, you get one treasure token, not three.)

      For "Pi-Land", the idea was that you play this land on turn 2. Turn three, you cast a spell with mana value 3, so you draw a card. Turn four, you cast a spell with mana value 1, so you draw a card, then you cast a spell with mana value 4 (at a discount somehow) so you draw another card. Turn you cast a spell with mana value 1 and draw a card. Then you see you want to cast a spell with mana value 5, but you don't have any, so you give up and cast something else and have to sacrifice pi-land.

      "do people have the info of more than the first two digits"

      I'm sure you're right, but I didn't understand what you meant (possibly because I had in my head how I wanted the card to work and didn't see what it actually did instead). What info? What two digits do they have?

    7. Between the sacrifice, the big reward, and not making mana (was that intended?) Pi-land doesn't feel like a land to me. I like the concept but I think the risk/reward part would have to be a lot less swingy, even in an Un-set.

      I like Pi-rate Prospector more-- the idea of making infinite treasures this way is hilarious and exciting. But making <=1 treasure in almost any other scenario is sad. To reduce the swinginess I'd like to see, say, "2R, T: Reveal the top card of your library. Create X treasure tokens, where X is the number of digits on that card."

  3. Tau, the twice πrate litch 3BB
    Legendary creature Litch πrate
    When you would take damage, set your life total to the X-th digit of π, where X is the sum of the mana value of all permanents on the board.

    1. Using the digits of Pi as a kind of randomized Form of the Dragon is a fun idea. From the "lich" flavor I gather it's intentional that this almost never actually lets you die?

      I think "count the total mana value" is a mistake-- it's time-consuming and not very relevant. Why not just advance one digit at a time? (Also, what happens if no one has nonland permanents?)

    2. Yes, the choice of this rarelly being equal to 0 was connected to the Lich flavor.

      Indeed counting the total mana value can be a problem, similar to power equal to number of creatures in all graveyards. I guessed players would count once when it comes into play then have a d100 set to track the changes.

      If no one has nonland permanents the lich is not in play, no?