Custom Card Game Design

Emerging Archetypes

Eldrazi Unleashed, or Amaretto, had some major work done on it this weekend.  All told, the design-phase for the set is about 85% complete (After design comes development, then focus playtesting).  Per my previous post on this blog, my design focus has changed and that has in many ways freed up a lot of design space.  To give a brief summary, I’m no longer designing with the intent of making this a WotC style set.  Instead, I’m completely ignoring booster draft and designing solely towards two formats: Cube draft and block constructed.

In many ways, the effects of this philosophy change won’t be immediately felt for me.  The first set is already finished from a design standpoint, and the second set is 3/4 of the way there.  This means that, in both sets, there are ‘filler’ cards that aren’t playable in constructed or in cube drafting, but are necessary for booster drafting (a format in which the block will never see play).  While it’s still early enough in the process for set #2 that I can still make changes, I’ve decided not to go back and rewrite history in regards to the first set.

That being said, I still have a lot more freedom from this point forward.  Though I’m still going to be sticking to traditional rarities for the remainder of this block, I’m much less tied to them (Since rarity exists for 2 reasons – balancing booster draft and selling packs).  I also get to stop adding ‘filler’ cards for booster draft, allowing me to accomplish the same effect per set with fewer cards.  Finally, I can continue to design cards without regard to any eternal format (From the beginning, I decided to ignore standard, modern, and legacy/vintage in my designs, as it takes WotC a team of people who do this professionally to get things right, and I’m only one man), allowing me create cards like today’s offering.

First off, let’s get the obvious out of the way.  This guy would (probably) never see print.  In a world where the swords cycle, argentum armor, and a dozen more hardcore equipment cards exist, this dude just gets nuts.  I say probably, because WotC has done stranger things and while this guy is good, I don’t know the Modern, Legacy, or Vintage formats to know if he’s any better than some of the silly decks that exist out there.   He’d definitely never see print in a standard or extended environment that included SoM block.  In any case, I have the luxury of not having to worry about this, and what results is a very entertaining card.

Even though the set isn’t even completely designed, much less developed, a friend and I went ahead and printed out proxies for a few constructed decks using cards from set 1 and cards that we had from set 2.  One of the decks I put together was a red/white deck that focused on playing Grillek here and filtering for some equipment.  Goblin Looter (also from Set 2) was a powerhouse in the deck, and I think R/W Grillek would definitely be a constructed archetype.  However, we also found that there enough answers for it in just about every color that it really didn’t feel overpowered.  One exception to this was this card, from set 1, but we determined that the issue was really the equipment and not Grillek himself (The equipment was on our watch list anyway).  It’s since been cut from the set, and I think we’re better for it.


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