Edit: if someone knows how to format this so it doesn't stretch the page, please do.
It's your use of tab spaces at the start of lines that is making the text switch like that - Ffluff 29/11
I am Braman™
The world I created is here, as well as the Design Tests: Welcome to Amani!
I am Braman™ Well... Actually, my real name is Bram. The handle is of course derived from my real name. Perhaps I'll tell that story later if you're interested. I've been playing Magic since Fourth Edition back when I was a newbie who thought it was a good idea to trade Lightning Bolts for Scaled Wurms. I've grown a lot since then... More stories for another time. In this stage in my life, I'm heavily interested and invested in game design. I'm currently working an internship where I design games for Facebook (ironic since I hate Facebook). I would like to be working creating games I actually love to play myself (ie Magic). You would likely want me on your team for my ability to think ideas from an angle that few are able to see from. I'm able to both create and build upon ideas in such a way that even if my ideas aren't used, they may help other designers around me discover ideas they otherwise would not have! I'll certainly demonstrate this ability to you shortly and you'll see what some others have already seen in me such that they snatched me up into an internship position as soon as they could. I hope you will be pleased with what I can offer you. Like everyone and their dog* that is applying for GDS, I'm extremely passionate about game design and specifically Magic. I've spent countless hours gaming and studying game design. Back in the day before Gleemax took over, I used to spend much time (and had a lot of fun) on the forums with various You Make the Card challenges.
Life gain makes games longer. Currently it shows up primarily in white, often in black (usually by flavor of stealing life) and sometimes in green. Red, however, lately seems to be used primarily for making games shorter. The finisher: For removal or direct damage (often directly at your opponent). Rare is the red card that does anything to help make the game longer. In the current metagame, mono red decks fail - as soon as you see that a player is playing mono red, you expect a lot of damage to be thrown as quickly as possible at the face. In a deck like Red Deck Wins, every card in the deck does nothing more than damage to your opponent. Red vs Red is especially terrible as the game often becomes nothing more than who topdecks more burn spells out of the ridiculous array of burn spells that currently exist. Little player vs player interaction happens... And this is top tier competitive magic!? Very rare is the mono red control deck. So rare that the previous statement is almost an oxymoron puzzle for Johnny to figure out. Let's give red decks more options. Instead of a red vs red match being about who can deal more damage faster, perhaps we can add creatures that red can play to gain them life. Suddenly instead of the correct option always being "Throw more damage at my opponent" there is now an interesting choice to remove a creature that could do a little more than just make the opposing red guy do more damage each turn. Even flavor wise, the ability could be tied into shamanism as many shamans exist in red. Life Gain could make Red vs Red matches more interesting.
For a long time, players have played two color decks but without a real identity to them. In Ravnica, ten guilds were created each representing a color combo that gave such a true life to the combination. Creative and Design very closely intertwined in this set as for each guild that was created, mechanics had to be designed that really fit and helped give a feel of the identity created. Even today, years after the block came out, people still refer to the dual colors by their guild names even if they don't include any cards from this block! One of the hardest challenges you can give someone is to ask what could be done better with something that was already done very well. I thought about it for a while. First I thought that too grand an idea was being forced into too small a block with the Large-Small-Small format that could have been abandoned. On second thought, however, I decided that being forced to fit the guilds into that format is part of what made drafting RGD so much fun. Radiance. The Boros keyword that isn't really a keyword. You have this great guild that seems very combat focused and yet Radiance has little to do with this. Much like the way Infect was created by combining Poison and Wither, something similar could have been done with the Boros ability by combining various combat abilities. For example: Double Strike, Flanking... Those are areas where red and white overlap. Radiance could go on any color and in a set where so many cards and decks - especially in limited - share colors, it would have been nice to get radiance type cards on every color in the set instead of just red and white. It doesn't even have to be a keyword.4
After taking a long look through the comprehensive rules text, I came across an obvious rule that could be removed. In fact, it's not just a rule but an entire step:502. Untap Step502.3. No player receives priority during the untap step, so no spells can be cast or resolve and no abilities can be activated or resolve. Any ability that triggers during this step will be held until the next time a player would receive priority, which is usually during the upkeep step.
Generally, Magic is a card game that you play - not watch. You could reasonably remove the entire untap step and combine it with the upkeep step. You could make things untapping/phasing as part of a rule that happens at the beginning of the upkeep step. Why is there a step in the game where nether player can do anything? If you're going to remove a rule that isn't pulling its weight, why not remove a step in the game that you don't actually even play in? I, along with everyone else who plays Magic, came to accept that there is an untap step before the upkeep step... But the two steps could be so easily combined into one step! Anything that says "during your untap step" could just as easily say "at the beginning of your upkeep step." Can the rule be removed? Can the untap step be merged into the upkeep step? The answer to both these questions is yes. Goodbye untap step. The only reason the untap step is still in the game is because it existed as a part of the game since Magic's beginning. It would be an easy move to do away with the step all together and just have fewer steps in the game. People will understand that at the beginning of each turn, things untap. They can do this just as easily at the beginning of the upkeep step. No big difference.5Blightning
Understand why should this not have been printed? It's a common that completely defined the metagame and doesn't have any easy counters (even as blue!) It nets one player damage and card advantage in 1 shot. At first glance, it seems like a simple mix of Lightning Bolt and Mind Rot. Mind Rot is average and Lightning Bolt slightly above average. But because this card does both things with a single cast, that maks it TOO efficient. TOO powerful. It was a mistake to combine these things. Not only was Blightning powerful as a cast on its own but it was also introduced in a set that added Cascade allowing you to consistently find and cast a Blightning almost every game. Casting multiple Blightnings can often end a game before a player can really defend themselves. It's not just discard - it's discard AND damage. Another part of the reason Blightning was so powerful was it was in an environment where burn cards were far too dominant. Too many cards completely ignored the board and went directly at your opponent regardless of what they played or had in play. Blightning is a prime example of a card that made this terrible archetype work. Cards that are always played the same way, with little choice involved and do the same thing every game are boring. Maybe you don't want to cast that mind rot to make your opponent discard because you have to deal with a creature which could make you lose the damage race? With Blightning you don't have to worry about making that choice. You're winning the damage race and gaining card advantage in one shot regardless of what your opponent has in play. It's almost always the right play to play a blightning in a deck that simply focuses burn spells. Lack of interesting choices makes for bad design. On another note, I suspect Tainted Strike is completely broken and should not have been printed. Time will tell on that one.6
Newer players can get into the game easier if the designers always keep them in mind. Designs should be intuitive. When you take a look at something you should have an idea of how it works just by looking at it. Don't forget that the most common way people get into Magic is because their friends play it and they become interested by what they see as they play. When a newbie observes a game of Magic, they should be able to follow the flow of the game even without understanding all the details. Designers often forget that the groundwork to attract new players is already in the game. All the basic elements already exist. Trying to tailor a set of cards towards new players or dumb down the game is pointless! (It should be noted that I see Portal as a failure but a failure that can be learned from.) On the other hand, a design that is too convoluted may initially confuse newbies but they will be able to tell that something interesting is happening there. If they already like what they see in the game they are more likely to want to learn how it works rather than quit in frustration. I originally started playing this game because I was watching others play this game too after all! The current player base is the beacon from which new players spawn. Anything that is too confusing, a more experienced player can help them through. Very rarely is Magic learned solo. It is a game to be played with others! To summarize: Although the designer must always keep new players in mind, it is actually the retention of older players that causes growth because the more players who already like the game, the more friends of current players will be curious to learn it.7
Innovate. Build. Keep adding new ideas to keep the game fresh. Keep building upon old ideas that former players liked. A careful balance of these things will retain experienced players. This much is obvious. Okay! So what can the designer do to best make the game attractive to experienced players? Research! Talk to people who play the game about what they like and don't like about various mechanics. Always keep in touch with your player base and pay very, very close attention to feedback - both positive and negative. The better understanding you have of your player base, the easier it will be to tailor the game to them. Anyone who is experienced at Magic has played many games and has formed varying opinions about all aspects of the game - good or bad. Now Magic has such a wide audience that you'll soon find there is no "everyone likes X and dislikes Y". It may be impossible to please everyone at once but every set should have something that sparks interest in every group of players. By making sure every psychographic is covered and spending a lot of time fine tuning the mechanical and flavorful details, the designer will find success. And keep in mind that sometimes it's actually a good idea to create things that a minority likes and a majority dislikes. Example: Player A hates LD but player B loves LD. Player A plays against Player B playing LD. If Player A beats player B then an emotional triumph takes place. Player A has conquered a player playing something they do not like. This is a memorable game that creates a story. Stories like this one keep Magic going strong.8
Let's see... Of all the mechanics currently in extended, which one is the best designed? In my opinion, it's Flying. Yes, Flying. It doesn't seem like anything special and a lot of people forget it's even a mechanic or keyword because it's so basic. But Flying adds another layer to combat in the game. Can you imagine Magic without flying? It is the most basic form of evasion in Magic. It is highly valued in limited. Having flying means certain creatures can't block your creatures. a 2/2 Flying creature is worth so much more than a 2/2 vanilla creature. Learn that it is simple and basic design that gives us Flying. It is perfect both in the sense of how it works mechanically and how it works with flavor. It seems so obvious! It wouldn't make sense for a dragon flying up in the sky and breathing fire to somehow be blocked by a lowly grizzly bears that can do little more than knock down a tree to eat you - at least not without some kind of help. It creates another place for combat to take place in the battlefield. Flying is so popular that entire other mechanics exist just to counter it (like Reach) Yet not everything in design has to be complex to be good. Most often the simplest of designs end up being the best. Flying is exactly what it needs to be: simple, basic, flavorful. It does nothing more than it needs to and completely changes the game by having it here.9
Cascade, while an interesting design, ended up being too hit or miss. Depending on how/when the cascade card is played, it could be an absolute bomb or an absolute dud. In order to decrease the chances of the cascade effect being a dud, certain cards are omitted from decks just to make sure the cascade will always find the right target. Cascade does not play nice with situational cards and forces you to make a deck that won't cause 'cascade duds'. Also, cascade is uneven throughout the colors. Playing cascade in a blue deck generally means you aren't going to play counterspells in the deck to avoid cascading into an unplayable card. Playing cascade in a red or green deck means you want to fill the deck with burn spells and creatures so the cascade will always be a 2for1 bomb. Lamentably, cascade forces people to build decks in a certain way: Very unforgiving for variance. This means a lot of decks end up looking exactly the same when playing cascade. Although it is possible to use deck manipulation to rig what cards you cascade into, cascading into those deck manipulation cards often makes you wish you didn't put those cards in the deck in the first place. The majority of the time that cascade is used, the cascade is used blindly so you must have already built a deck to take full advantage and guarantee the cascade is a hit. Lack of variance in deck building is bad for Magic. The inclusion of cascade in a deck means the exclusion of several cards that simply do not play nice with cascade. Although cascade may have its moments of suspense and thrill, that thrill comes at the cost of causing many clone decks. Who wants to see turn 3 Blightning into turn 4 Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Blightning AGAIN?10Kamigawa
Kamigawa could have been done better. "Spiritcraft" isn't actually keyworded while Sweep was keyworded? I'll set that aside for now to focus on the mechanical twist that this question asked about. Because Splice seemed like a good idea... Only it was limited only to Arcane cards and that severely limited its potential. What if instead of just splicing onto arcane, if you could instead splice on to any card type or specific cards? What if you could splice onto creatures? Splice onto lands? Splice onto enchantments? You could even splice onto specific kinds of creatures - namely spirits? There is so much untapped design space in Splice! Restricting Splice to only arcane cards was a huge mistake! Splice cards don't play well with cards outside the set which is a huge loss. Many cards were created with the Arcane type yet in most cases when they are played it would not matter one way or the other if the card has Arcane. And the set's problems don't stop here either. Compare Ninjitsu with Annihilator. One appears only on ninjas and the other only on eldrazis. Which keyword could easily be used on a non-ninja, non-eldrazi creature? The answer isn't ninjitsu. The set was created to play with itself. Every mechanic could be 'twisted' or tweaked slightly to better increase cross-block synergy. I digress. Maybe I should stay on topic... Kamigawa, if it is ever revisitd, should definitely have these old mechanics redone in a way that enables better cross block synergy. Splice is a mechanic with a lot of untapped potential. Even if we never return to Kamigawa, the ideas can still be extracted. Old sets are a great source of new ideas.
I was really excited when I saw the original GDS years ago but never got a chance to participate because it started before i even knew about it! Good thing this time they gave us plenty of time to find out it started.
A little about me before I get in way over my head:I have played Magic since Fourth Edition. I know a lot about game design and a lot about Magic and Magic design. I'm currently undertaking a game design internship that makes Facebook games and other mobile apps (ironic because I so do hate Facebook) and hoping to translate some of my success into making games I actually like to play myself (like Magic).
And to MaRo who I know is going to end up reading every little bit of this wiki due to insanity: I'm the one who kept bugging you about doing another GDS and make sure to give people time to actually join it. I'm glad you listened or I may well have missed it again! Hope to meet you soon.
This is my world. HA! This world is nothing. I buried this one at the bottom of the page. The true world is here: Welcome to Amani!
To all the Top 6, I have a message for you regarding the third challenge.
I'm very sorry, everyone! I checked on Wed and saw no challenge so I thought there wasn't anything last week until it was too late. I was unable to help you guys for the second challenge I'll be doing it late as well for whatever color someone suggests for me. Very sorry, top8. Worse yet, I'm sick! Not my week.
A note to all designers in the top 8: I am here to help you! Please be specific in what you want and I will make you cards that will fit your world.
| Jonathan Loucks requested red commons and was very specific about what he wanted so I could help him. I can do this for you too!
| Ethan Fleischer has done an excellent job fleshing out a design skeleton and I've helped contribute by filling in the few holes here. Solid design.
| Jay Treat made a design skeleton for his commons so you can see what kind of cards he wants us to make him.
What has Braman done for | Utopia and Devon Rule?
What has Braman done for | Malgareth and Scott Van Essen?
What has Braman done for | Golamo and Jonathan Woodward?
What has Braman done for | Wodotha and Shawn Main?
Unfortunately, I was unable to make major contributions to Deadsands for Daniel Williams... He spent much time working on his mechanics but didn't specify what he wanted. I'm trying to help 8 people here but it's hard to help one if they don't request specifics.