Custom Card Game Design

Playtesting Paiura


yesterday we got a few people together to play Paiura and I had the first chance of testing an actual draft with the set. I was a bit anxious going into it, knowing that there will be many issues and having bad experience with how people react to issues in my designs. Unfair or unfun designs were seen as a personal insult to the player, unless of course it’s in his or her favor – in that case, the foreshadowing of possible fixes to that design is seen as the insult instead. I was thrilled that it didn’t turn out that way this time. I received a lot of constructive feedback and made my own conclusions based on the observation of the games. This is what I learned:

What’s Good

  • Sanctuaries finally have an impact. In previous iterations of the set, creatures with the Shelter ability word (As long as you control a sanctuary, X) were dead cards because you couldn’t get enough sanctuaries. There were too few at common and too many multicolored ones. So, I added a few more and made them mostly monocolored.
  • There is no “one drop, into two drop, into three drop, into kill you”, which is something I despise.
  • The Vezadun (RUG) Elemental deck seems very well supported. A few cards should be changed as they didn’t work out quite as I wanted them to, but unless the person right next to you is cutting all the removal (!), the deck should be very synergistic and powerful.
  • The Toria (RWU) artifact deck seems fine as well. Maybe one more flicker-effect at common should be implemented.
  • The mana seems good enough to support the multicolor theme. However, one more ramp and mana-fixing artifact at common should be reasonable.

What’s Bad

  • The overall power level is too high. This is largely due to individual cards being broken or too low in rarity, which can be easily fixed, but there are too many playables in general. A set needs at least some bad or very situational cards.
  • Most games were very interactive and finished in a reasonable amount of time. However, some games became a huge stall. I wanted the format to be slower so that sanctuaries could matter and I definitely achieved that, but there are missing some big finishers like in Rise of the Eldrazi.
  • The Bojega (BGW) lifegain deck isn’t supported enough. There aren’t enough lifegain effects.
  • The Plant/Fungus deck doesn’t seem to be viable as well.

What to do

  • It was suggested by most players that sanctuaries should be a type instead of a subtype. This seems reasonable to me and I will go ahead and change it. There will be those sanctuaries that don’t have any additional types or subtypes, there will be artifact sanctuaries and the occasional creature sanctuary. The sanctuaries that previously had hexproof might be changed to have “Protection from spells and abilities.”
  • To help out the Bojega deck, I’ll add one more lifegain common.
  • Every slow format needs something similar to the levelers in ‘Rise of the Eldrazi’ to make it work. It allows you to eventually get to powerful creatures that break the stall and win you the game. The Mage-cycle with their seven-mana abilities are a good start, but they don’t quite get there on their own. I’ll help them out by making a cycle out of Ajun’s Apprentice.
  • Of course, fixing individual cards is just as important. The biggest villain was Temple of Mahisa, which will be changed to this version.

3 responses to “Playtesting Paiura

  1. lukas (nicht der frase) August 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    yay super.. dqa wird noch was richtig großes draus

  2. adventmtg August 25, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Though I haven’t had the opportunity to test my own set lately, as I’ve been gone most of the month due to work, I’m finding some of the same problems you’re having, and I’m wondering how you deal with it. Specifically, the issue of not having enough ‘filler’ and the issue of not having a ‘build-up’ type card ala levelers. Interested to see what you do about these issues, as I’m at a loss.

  3. antaresmtg August 26, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I don’t think there is a ‘filler’ problem, assuming you mean bad to mediocre cards. In some sets the boosters are very shallow and you need to struggle to find enough playables, in others, almost all cards are playable so you end up with a good deck anyway. This isn’t a problem if the set focuses sufficiently on synergies so that synergistic decks will still outpower the ‘good stuff’ decks. Just a different style of set I think.

    ‘Build-up’-type cards are important, or more precisely inevitability. That’s even more true for Caeia. I already told you – just bring back levelers :).

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