Off Topic: Diary of an Amateur Designer - Conflict

  • #1
    This thread is for the discussion of my latest article, Off Topic: Diary of an Amateur Designer - Conflict. We would be grateful if you would let us know what you think, but please keep your comments on topic.
  • #2
    It sounds like you're in a mess. You're concerning yourself with development, storyline, worldbuilding, and skeleton all at once.

    Your set's premise is based on enchantments (very high difficulty, IMHO). Here' some barriers you will need to overcome:
    - I do not need to win the game with enchantments. Enchantments are at best supplemental to a creature-based strategy or a part of a combo. Enchantments need to play a bigger role in this set. Perhaps a measureable goal is "would I first-pick Naturalize when drafting this set?"
    - Enchantments are not usually seen. How do I help the player imagine a world in which most of what goes on is controlled by something not seen?
    - The colors red and black have a hard time with enchantments. Red can only get angry and bash what it sees, for example. How are you going to properly incorporate them?
    - For a color to be viable in limited, it needs a certain minimum of creatures. (If you do not believe me, try playing 4th edition sealed on a bootleg copy of Shandalar - you will almost always go with R/G simply due to a lack of creatures in the other colors).

    Your first set is merely going to introduce the world, while the story is told in the two expansions. So your first goal should be worldbuilding. I see that you are thinking about factions, which is correct, but a faction is more than just a creature type. Some factions are aggressive, some are sneaky, some are spiritual, some are just there for the ride. What factions exist in your world, and how do they survive and thrive in this world. What is their relationship with the major themes of the set, and what are their respective agendas. As you do this, remember your goal - to make enchantments matter. (Hint: they don't have to matter in the same way to each faction). I will note that you correctly identified that players want something new.

    Playtesting and card-balancing is like trying to proofread a paper that has not even been written. Do not concern yourself with that yet. (I didn't even get to the playtesting part when I designed my block, but I was happy with the mechanics and world that I created).

    Feel free to PM me with questions. FYI, my set was based around lands, where the goal was to make Stone Rain first-pickable. I came up with some pretty neat mechanics.

    BTW, the G/W and B Planeswalker are fine, but with the UR one your "signets" will get exiled and cannot be recovered when you do the ultimate. That ultimate needs more power.
  • #3
    Good stuff. Sounds like you're well thought out enough to bring your focus back to designing cards!

    Don't forget you eventually need to make commons & uncommons of the vanilla & french vanilla sort. Use them to interject flavor text from your world.

    Your PWs don't have the crucial flaw a lot of beginning planeswalkers do. They can get +1 no matter what the board state is. Good on you for that. I might change the -1/-1 ability to hit "another target permanent" on your black pw so that he can't put them on himself and confuse players with "is that loyalty or what?" shennanigans. Aside from that looking good.

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing your next article. Glad to see you're taking the time to polish your work, too.
    try { gumOnShoe.cardCollection(); /*See more by me.*/ } catch(ThinkOfTheGameException e) {
    if (gumOnShoe.isAwesome()==42) {;}
    else { System.out.println("I just lost the game."); gumOnShoe.lose(); }
  • #4
    You mention this in your article, but I would have definitely liked to have seen a bunch of commons this early on. I want to see how well these mechanics you've been considering would fit there... give me an idea of how I can expect it to play out. For example, the enchantment that turns into a creature just makes me think that getting an actual creature into play through this mechanic is going to be hard. The protection ability it offers is underwhelming, so it feels more like I'm paying 5 mana for a 2/2 flier. One of the awkward things about protection from Instants (which... I would avoid having on anything less than a rare, personally), is that you don't really know when it's "working". Is your opponent's hand filled with useless instants now? Only he knows!

    Meh... my comments there were a bit unfocused. I'll just move on.

    Oh... random rule snippet...

    205.1b Some effects change an object's card type, supertype, or
    subtype but specify that the object retains a prior card type,
    supertype, or subtype. In such cases, all the object's prior
    card types, supertypes, and subtypes are retained.
    This rule applies to effects that use the phrase "in addition
    to its types" or that state that something is "still a [type,
    supertype, or subtype]." Some effects state that an object
    becomes an "artifact creature"; these effects also allow the
    object to retain all of its prior card types and subtypes.

    Not too important, but worth keeping in mind (including the bizarre bit about "artifact creatures" retaining their previous types...).

    Some quick notes on the planeswalker designs.

    You put a lot of effort into explaining why Lasalia is synergistic... but, I don't really see it. Tutoring for enchantments + the land to cast them is not really a synergy, in my opinion. As stand-alone planeswalker abilities I can see them working, though. One problem I see is that the -1 ability stops you from using the synergistic -X ability. You fetch up an enchantment to turn into a guy... but you can't actually Ultimate! Also, not sure how often you're forgetting to put "until end of turn" on some of these abilities. It might be intentional... but... feels like that's not the case? Oh... I don't think fetching land from my deck to my hand is sexy.

    I quite like the first two parts of Javeck. The +1 ability is strong... and possibly a little out of theme? It's mana acceleration which is neither blue or red. On the other hand, I could see Lotus Petals being a valid option (with reds ritual affects being the justification). A small tweak I would like to see. Being able to turn them into mini-Shrapnel Blasts seems fun, too Grin I would be tempted to start a bit stronger though and ratchet back if need be... maybe make it 4 damage? Maybe even 5? I think players would appreciate the call-back to Shrapnel Blast (for the veterans) and it looks like a strong ability which will increase the card's appeal. Slightly disappointed by the Ultimate again though. Maybe if it keyed off of the artifacts in play part?

    Braemen is my favorite of the planeswalkers. Kill a creature, exile the creature, reanimate the creature. It tells a nice story all in one card about what this Planeswalker cares about. I would probably change the instances of "permanent" to "creature" to really drive home what is going on and to remove confusion ("why would I put a -1/-1 counter on a land?"). My only problem would then be that you need to meet conditions to be able to do anything with your planeswalker (must have creatures, either alive or dead). I would be willing to live with this... but I'm a Spike who can accept this sort of awkwardness for a powerful guy like this.

    Oh wait... what are your counters in this set? Charge counters? -1-1 counters? You can't have both... which might mean I would put this Planeswalker in the "good idea, but not today" folder.

    My comments are already getting really long. Eeerrrmm... I don't want there to be 1/1 dragons? 3/3 dragons are a real minimum and I'm still not massively happy about that from a flavor perspective. Would a 6 mana 4/4 dragon with haste and a twin (a 4/4 token when attacking) be too gross? Probably... hmm... but I really want the token to be the same as the original (Staaaaaaaaaaaaangg!).

    Okay... I'm going to shut up now.
    ... there is no way they could have done such a stupidity ...
  • #5
    I don't have time to respond now, but I am listening.

    What I wanted to state quick is Braemen's putting -1/-1 counters on permanents. It allows for a person to proactively put them on an Eidolon before they are reanimated or a man land. Not here, but I'd rather leave it for now and tweak in development.
  • #6
    Quote from Meyou
    I don't have time to respond now, but I am listening.

    What I wanted to state quick is Braemen's putting -1/-1 counters on permanents. It allows for a person to proactively put them on an Eidolon before they are reanimated or a man land. Not here, but I'd rather leave it for now and tweak in development.

    That's fine, just don't forget that n00bs exist and we want to make their lives as easy as possible. You have some leeway as mythics rarely show up to begin with...
    try { gumOnShoe.cardCollection(); /*See more by me.*/ } catch(ThinkOfTheGameException e) {
    if (gumOnShoe.isAwesome()==42) {;}
    else { System.out.println("I just lost the game."); gumOnShoe.lose(); }
  • #7
    @ Glimok

    It is a mess because I want to understand where I am going. In my opinion, it is the reality of how Magic sets are made. Many players think sets go from creative, to design, and dropped of to development in a rigid order. I'm willing to bet those teams meet constantly going back and forth with ideas. I've feel like I have a more solid sketch of my world and now I can go forward more linearly.

    All your points are very valid. Unfortunately, they are very, very valid. Red and blue combating the enchantment faction has me most concerned. Tricky. Tricky.

    Thanks for the offer of help. We'll see if I will need a life preserver.


    Thanks for encouragement.

    @ Mr. Wilson

    Thanks for pointing out that rule. Not my biggest strength.

    Synergy is probably the wrong word, but I think the abilities compliment each other well. She will definitely need tweaking.

    Shrapnel Blast might be a little much. Wink

    I dropped the dragon in this article to gauge people's reaction. I want a constructed playable dragon in this set. Part of that is bringing the mana cost down. My hunch is I will up the cost, but add a little spice. Dragon Titan?

    FYI: Signet is just a type of artifact. It is just an idea I am playing with. Creatures get types, I think artifacts should have types too when it matters. Signets is what I have dubbed artifacts that produce mana. The name could be better. I picked it because it has become a common Magic lexicon after the Ravinica signets. It is a common enough ability on artifacts I think it should get a type. We'll see if naming them actually add any value though.
  • #8
    I'd like to start by wishing you the best of luck and even more stamina. You're trying to do what a team of 10+ professionals does in a year.

    Just a quick reply to the necromancer planeswalker: It's NOT "a tad weak". I don't play Constructed, but in Limited this will win virtually any game if it's cast on turn 2. The only way to kill it is a Lightning Bolt right away. Forget using creatures against it. There should be bombs of course, but those usually can be fought by winning the game before they arrive. Good luck doing that against a two drop.

    (Also, you've probably already noticed that a two mana planeswalker suddenly isn't that special anymore...)

    My suggestion: Turn the "-1/-1 counter" into "-1/-1 until end of turn". It's not a Limited insta-win anymore and also you don't need the extra type of counters.

    Also (or alternatively) you could change the mana cost to BB. That way it's only powerful in Constructed and dedicated Limited decks.
    Last edited by Noonycurt: 4/16/2012 5:15:23 AM
  • #9
    Interesting stuff.

    I think you may need to come up with a new name for the loreleys though. Its neat that it has a link to mythology, but frankly that name is just going to stop many people cold when trying to say the names of your cards. There will probably even be some disagreements among players of how to pronounce it. For something as widespread as a tribe that will probably be on 10+ cards, thats just too much complexity in the name. Save the hard to say names for planeswalkers and legendary creatures.
    I support WotC's goal of shaping Modern in favor of diversity.

    I ran a thought experiment on my blog
    Modern in a Nuclear Wasteland
    of an extreme case of banning 20 more cards to make sure they get everything, then scaling back where appropriate. WotC seems to be on a slowly build up approach. Both ways probably reach similar end points.

    The post Gatecrash metagame is proving to be closer to the endpoint than I estimated, so its very possible that few (if any) more cards need to be banned.
  • #10
    Yeah, I noticed the two mana planeswalker. I thought "how ironic". Maybe it is not ironic, but more coincidental. I will probably follow their stride and make it BB and remove the counter part of the ability.

    As I play with various ideas, I like the concept of the loreley. However, the name still has never stuck on myself. It will probably be replaced. I won't worry about that until later. To me, that is more of a marketing thing. I would like something sexier as they like to say.

    This project as definitely been an art in humility. I find myself having to stomach my own criticism or rise to the occasion. The adversity has been good because it has forced me to find some interesting areas of design. Such as... finding alternative drawbacks to nonbasic lands.

    I also find myself flip-flopping. I know when I reveal the set that people will point out how I said I wasn't going to do certain things. Well, I was wrong on certain points. Sometimes, I was very wrong. In about two weeks, I should have the alpha up. I am about half-way through. One of the biggest problems is keeping everything organized. This in turn is the long process of typing up 200+ cards and the comments about them.

    I'd comment more, but my brain hurts. Smile
  • #11
    These planeswalkers are disappointing. There's no other word for it. When you first see a planeswalker, you should get excited and think of all the ways you can use it. That does not happen very much here.

    Lesalia's +1 is just a straightforward card per turn (slightly tutor-ey, but really if you're at 2WG already and not dead, tutoring for specialty lands probably isn't much better than just drawing cards). It's unexciting, but fine. It doesn't really fit with the other abilities, but is fine in a vacuum as some Planeswalker's ability. I take issue with the -1, though. It works against the 'synergistic' ultimate and will only ever be obviously trash or obviously broken - it will almost never be fair. The ultimate is kinda exciting once you realize that you can Overrun people if you spend enough time fetching out lands, but then you read that sentence and realize that fetching out lands is not the sort of thing that makes you want to Overrun people.

    Javeck reads like his abilities all work together, when in fact they do not. That's kinda frustrating. Getting a token which taps for mana is interesting, but probably too good. Also, none of his abilities affect the board unless you've already got stuff going on, which is pretty frustrating. I think this is the closest to being fine of all your mythics. I think dialing up the number on the Shrapnel Blast ability is just fine - it costs you a 'card', after all. That would definitely help make this guy more exciting. I'd try to find a different ultimate, though. Mass reanimate on your artifacts seems more White than anything else. I like the synergy with sacrificing artifacts, but it just seems weird to reanimate them all.

    Braemen with -1/-1 counters is pretty good, and likely to dominate any game he comes down early. Braemen with -1/-1 until end of turn is stone unplayable against most decks. The -1/-1 counters version is probably fine at BB, despite being obviously good, and the fact that it's "only" a Serrated Arrows with infinite counters (since the other abilities are a little unwieldy) is fine. To put it differently, his 2nd and 3rd abilities don't seem very fun to me. If they're fun to someone else, that's great, but incidental graveyard hate + very slow reanimation seems, well, boring. Believe it or not, you are allowed to have charge counters and -1/-1 counters in the same set - just not both on creatures, generally. See: Tumble Magnet and infect.

    Vorali deserves Null Rod's flavor text. If you have another card that's actually doing something, you don't want to Vorali it because then creature kill spells and combat tricks can stop it. If you really want this sort of card, try to design artifacts and enchantments that get used up, so you're not particularly unhappy if they die. Also, March of the Machines and Opalescence are global and only 1 more mana. This doesn't really seem like a Mythic rare... if they game goes long, I get to Karn, Silver Golem my artifacts and enchantments? But only 1 at a time? I think you're probably maybe safe making this "0: effect", which would justify Mythic, Legendary etc. I mean, it's not like those artifacts and enchantments were free to begin with. Also, "1: effect" is almost certainly safe and still kinda exciting.

    Lucentian seems fine. Not particularly exciting, but it's hard to object to this.

    Hex should definitely put the creature into play tapped and attacking. It's weird to get a big haste dragon to smack people with and then it creates summoning-sick tokens.

    TLDR: Reading through your mythics produces a lot of "huh?" moments and not a lot of "Oh, that's cool!" moments. That's a pretty bad state for your mythics to be in. It's okay for Lesalia or Javeck to be a little bit of a puzzle, but once the player figures that puzzle out there should be something awesome going on.
  • #12
    No expert here but I feel like this planeswalker...

    Lesalia (Mythic) 2WG
    Planeswalker – Lesalia
    +1: Search your library for a land, reveal it and put it into your hand. Shuffle your library.
    -1: Search your library for enchantment, reveal it and put it into your hand. Shuffle your library.
    -X: Enchantments you control become X/X spirit creatures with flying.


    Would be more fun as:

    Lesalia (Mythic) 2WG
    Planeswalker – Lesalia
    +1: Search your library for enchantment, reveal it and put it into your hand. Shuffle your library.
    -1: Search your library for a land card and reveal it. If it is a basic land card, you may put it onto the battlefield, otherwise put it into your hand. Shuffle your library.
    -X: Non-Aura Enchantments you control become X/X spirit creatures with flying.
  • #13
    first of: I like your ideas.

    I noticed quite some wording errors in the cards you posted. I know those might not be final, but I'll correct them for you anyways, I hope it helps.

    Lesalia (Mythic) 2WG
    Planeswalker – Lesalia
    +1: Search your library for a land, reveal it and put it into your hand. Shuffle your library.
    -1: Search your library for enchantment, reveal it and put it into your hand. Shuffle your library.
    -X: Enchantments you control become X/X spirit creatures with flying.
    Search your library for a land card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
    Search your library for an enchantment card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.

    and on the last ability:
    If you want to make the ability to last indefinitely, you should consider creating an emblem (timestamp order will still apply). Also the way it's written here, they will stop being enchantments and be just creatures - and since you state that you want the Ultimate to be growing, that is probably not intended.
    Possible wording:
    -X: Enchantments you control become X/X spirit creatures with flying. They are still enchantments.

    or with an emblem:
    -X: You get an emblem with "Each enchantment you control is an X/X creature with flying. It's still an enchantment."

    The second version would also change later enchantments, which is probably the only difference here. Also keep in mind that Auras that are also Creatures cannot enchant anything.

    Javeck, Master Artificer (Mythic) 2UR
    Planeswalker – Javeck
    +1: Put a signet artifact token into play that has "tap: add 1 to your mana pool."
    -1: Sacrifice an artifact you control, it deals three damage to target creature or player.
    -6: Return all artifacts from your graveyard to the battlefield.
    Again, I'm not too sure about the first ability - what is a signet?
    the way it reads here, it would probably be an artifact-subtype.
    it would put a token into play that basically reads:

    Artifact - Signet
    {T}: Add {1} Mana to your mana pool.

    If that's what was wanted - okay!

    next ability:
    -1: Sacrifice an Artifact. (no "you control" needed, as you can only sac permanents you control anyways) If you do (the ability is usable even without you controlling an artifact. so better add an "if you do"), that artifact ("it" is not 100% accurate, does it mean the planeswalker or does it mean the artifact? better write it directly. If you actually want the Planeswalker to deal the damage - just replace "that artifact" with "Javeck, Masater Artificer") deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

    last one:
    -6: Return all artifact cards (artifacts exist only on the battlefield. Everywhere else, you have to refer to artifact cards.) from your graveyard to the battlefield.

    Braemen, the Necromancer (Mythic) 1B
    Planeswalker – Braemen
    +1: Put a -1/-1 counter on target permanent.
    +1: Exile target permanent in a graveyard from the game.
    -X: Choose a creature with a mana cost X that was exiled from the game by Braemen, the Necromancer. Put it onto the battlefield under your control.
    +1: Exile target permanent card from a graveyard. (again, no permanents anywhere except for the battlefield. Also you don't "exile from the game", you simply "exile".)

    -X: Put a creature card exiled with Braemen, the Necromancer onto the battlefield under your control. X is the converted mana cost of that card.
    (I actually had to look up Prototype Portal for this one.)

    Vorali (Mythic) 3
    Legendary Artifact
    Tap: Target enchantment or artifact becomes a creature with power and toughness equal to its casting cost. It is no longer an artifact and/or enchantment.

    {T}: Target artifact or enchantment becomes a creature with power and toughness equal to its converted mana cost. It is no longer an artifact.
    (kinda weird, but the only permanents retaining their card type when becoming creatures are artifacts. no need for that sentence for an enchantment.)

    Lucentian (Uncommon) 1WW
    Enchantment – Eidolon
    Other creatures and enchantments you control gain protection from instants.
    1W: Lucentian becomes a 2/2 creature with flying.

    Other creatures and other enchantments (I'm just assuming that you want Lucentian to never recieve its own bonus here.) you control have (use "gain" when giving a temporary protection, but use "have" for static ones.) protection from instants.

    on the activated ability: again, keep in mind it will no longer be an enchantment (and also lose the enchantment subtype eidolon) when turning into a creature. Add an "It's still an enchantment" to the end if you want it to be both. Also, this effect lasts indefinitely - if it shouldn't, add an "until end of turn".

    After reading more of your blog, I noticed something important:
    you mentioned "Eidolon" being a creature type.
    in order for that enchantment here to have the "Eidolon" subtype it has to be either a Creature from the beginning or a Tribal.
    As far as I know, Enchantments can never recieve Creature-Subtypes and Creatures can never recieve Enchantment-Subtypes.
    I'm sorry, but there is no way around Tribal here. You simply CANNOT define a Subtype to be valid for both Creatures and Enchantments - it just won't work.

    Hex, the Brood Leader (Rare) 2RR
    Creature – Dragon
    Flying, Haste
    When Hex, the Brood Leader attackes, put a 1/1 red dragon whelp with flying onto the battlefield.

    Whenever Hex, the Brood Leader attacks, put a 1/1 red Dragon Whelp creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

    Also keep in mind that they will be named "Draogn Whelp" - there is already a card like that (Draogn Whelp) and that there is no such creature type as "Whelp" (

    Though you can create it, if you want to.

    That shall be all for now, I really hope I did get everything right (correct me, if I'm wrong) and that I explained everything with enough detail.
    And of course that this post will help you with your set!
  • #14
    Wow. Thanks BladewingX. Extremely helpful and educational all at the same time. You have everything pinned down as I would want it for the most part.

    The signet subtype is me playing around with a back-up plan. If the token thing doesn't work, I thought I could create a set of artifacts with the subtype - signet. The plan is to change the ability into a search effect that targets only signets. Nissa Revane like, but we don't restrict to just a card. We restrict the ability to a subtype. It gives the card room to grow at the kitchen tables in the future. In hindsight, I would have liked to change Nissa Revane's first ability into searching an elf subtype. I don't know: maybe "elf guardian." I realize there are no guardians. The point is to find something rare to add to the elf subtype which would restrict Nissa in the same manner. However, Wizards could print more "elf guardians" in the future. Maybe, they could print something crazy. The way she is printed now doesn't let her grow. She also sucks in Commander. Shame.

    Thanks again.
  • #15
    Is this article just another site copying this meyou's idea?

    Because it seems pretty close to the same thing to me.

    to be fair though, I kinda like the idea of the audience getting to participate, but I feel like it's just him posturing for a job at WotC

    I love meyou's stuff here though.

    Posts merged. Please use the 'Edit' button in future.
    -RMS Oceanic
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic: 4/27/2012 3:07:16 PM
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