This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Thank you so much for these articles. A behind-the-scenes look at the design process is always fascinating.
Then, you throw all that out, change a plus (+) to a minus (-), "push equipment", lower the cost and you have Skullclamp .
Welcome to WotC, please leave your integrity about following a process at the door.
Very useful advice for game design in general, and especially for custom set design.
For people designing custom sets in their spare time, it's of course really hard to playtest, because that needs at least two people and preferably more, whereas a custom set can be designed by just one person. (Not saying it can be done /well/, of course.)
I guess that just means there's need for more integration between custom set design tools like Multiverse and tools for actually playing with custom cards. I have been musing about adding gaming table functionality to Multiverse for a while... it'd be quite a big feature, but it'd be so useful for letting people try out their custom cards.
First of all, I agree with you Mark that you should start at the common rarity. Not because mechanics should be present at this level, but because it's easier to find the heart of a mechanic if you limit yourself to other concerns than draft-capabilities or pure power.
Instead of WotCs overall strategy to estimate the rarity by effectiveness - which can result in overpowered mythic rares - I categorize cards by game impact or game-shifting capabilities. Although it might sound similar, it's quite different:
"We also tend to scale creature size based on rarity." - That's not an issue for me. A vanilla 9/9 only has an impact, if your opponent can't block it and even then it's dependant on how much lifepoints your opponent has and/or how easy it is to prevent the loss of life.
"two-for-one the opponent by destroying something while also providing you with a resource" - It's especially about 'enters the battlefield' effects. I won't have a problem with a creature that kills another creature when it comes into play. A spell hat let's your opponent discard two cards; a bounce effect that returns multiple creatures or a search spell that finds two land cards could be all common in my opinion. As usual, it depends on the fact whether or not your opponent can handle this easily. Even a kill spell that destroys two creatures could be common (see Ashes to Ashes ), if it's situational or more restricted instead.
Speaking about whether or not it's easy to handle an effect brings me to another point - There ought to be three fundamental facts in Magic:
Each color tries to achieve advantage in all/each of these categories
However, every color does so in a unique way. Black uses discard spells to generate card advantage. Red destroys lands and uses spells to achieve mana advantage.
A quick side note: In the computer game Borderlands 2 you have 5 different characters. Similar to the color cycle in Magic (white, blue, black, red, green), you could formulate a character cycle in Borderlands (Commando, Assassin, Siren, Gunzerker, Mechromancer). The important fact: All characters ought to be unique (that trivial), but in addition share some common concepts:
It's simply a necessity of the game. Transfer this back to Magic and you see that this resembles the three points above. And similar to Mark's comment about "mechanics ought to be common", these three points ought to be present at common rarity as well.
Whenever I design new cards on my own, I test them in a pauper star constellation. 'Star' means that you assume 5 players. Each player is limited to a specific color. Each player has two friends and two enemies. The friends are those two colors befriended to your color and the enemies are those two colors that oppose your color.
The advantage: On a 1:1 setting, you don't catch all aspects of the game. F.e. in a 40 cards game with one enemy, a 'grind' ability seems to be easy and you can overshoot it. You could even think about making this a guild-mechanic. In a Pauper Star setting however, it becomes obvious that this has to be a minor subtheme.
You can also design cards that add a nice strategy into this game. White could also heal another player. In this way, white can prevent that anyone wins before they do. 'Not-losing' might be a good way of winning.
For a multicolored set, you could also play a Pauper Star game. But instead of being limited to a single color, you're limited to a color-combination. Your enemies are all those other combinations that do not include either of your colors.
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