Custom Card Game Design

Crucible, Realm of Legends

It’s been a long time since my last post, and instead of getting into why, I think I’ll just forego all that and talk about my current project:  Crucible, Realm of Legends!

Looking back on Caeia

My last project, the Caiea block, was some of the most fun I’ve had with MtG ever.  I’m certainly still an amateur designer (and player), but creating the Caeia block helped me understand a ton more about the game, both from a design and gameplay standpoint.  That said, more fun than the design and development was the playtesting.  And not just the playtesting online via MWS or Cockatrice, but the in-person playtesting that was done with printed ‘proxy’ cards.

Playtesting with printed cards had its problems.  First, any time you wanted to test a constructed deck, you had to go print it out, and that took time and money.  Second, there was almost no way to simulate an actual draft or sealed event (short of generating boosters in MSE and printing them – which we did once or twice.).  These problems led me to one solution, however:  the Cube.  A singleton limited format circumvented the limitations of printed custom cards.  All you needed to do was print one of each card, sleeve them up with some land (also printed, to keep the size and weight of each card ‘uniform’), and voila, you have a playable limited environment that doesn’t require you to run to Kinko’s every night.

Of course, this had its problems as well – namely that the set was designed around WotC conventions and not as a cube, so the format didn’t always work smoothly.  However, overall it was an awesome solution that gave Caeia a ton of playability in my playgroup.  It worked so well, in fact, that deciding to make the next set a cube was a no-brainer.

The Modular Cube

When I began outlining my ideas for Crucible, one of the first things I had to consider was how it would work.  As a singleton format, rarity isn’t necessary, and so none of the cards would be assigned a rarity.  Also, ‘junk’ cards or filler for other formats wasn’t needed either, and thus the power level is intentionally higher (much higher) than real MtG sets.  All that considered, though, I still wanted a ‘block’ – three sets that, together, form a cohesive play environment.   Thus, the Modular Cube was born.

The concept of the modular cube is that several smaller “mini-cubes” come together in any combination to form a larger cube.  In this case, there are three 180-card “mini-cubes” that can each be played separately for 2-4 players, combined in any combination of two to provide gameplay for up to 8 players, or expanded to include all three and accommodate up to 12 players.

This is great for my playgroup, because all of my drafts with the Caeia block were with 4 or fewer players – my best friend and I particularly enjoy Winston/Winchester 2-player draft – and so it provides for small drafts such as that yet provides the variety and versatility needed for more players.

This is also the set’s biggest design hurdle – each 180-card set needs to be a viable limited format in and of itself, but also needs to play well with the other sets in any combination.

Realm of Legends

So here we are.   To date, I’ve got the rough design for the first two sets in the Crucible block finished and in playtesting, and design for the 3rd set is beginning to get underway.  The sets each have a multicolor theme (one featuring the 5 ‘shard’ three-color pairs, one featuring the 5 ‘wedge’ three-color pairs, and another featuring 10 ‘guild’ pairs presented as hybrid cards’.) and a legendary creatures/planeswalkers matter theme.

There are a few things to take note of when evaluating any of the cards in the set:

  • The format is intended to have a very high power level, akin to playing with a ‘powered’ cube (featuring power 9, etc.)
  • The multi-color theme is forced, especially in the case of the Hybrid set.  The color pie may be stretched, or possibly broken, if in doing so it provides compelling gameplay.
  • As mentioned, none of the cards are assigned rarity.

The .PDF file for the hybrid set can be found at this link.  Keep in mind that it is a rough draft of the set, and ideas are being developed on almost a daily basis as the set is being playtested.  I welcome any and all feedback on the set and I look forward to sharing more soon!


One response to “Crucible, Realm of Legends

  1. antaresmtg May 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I didn’t have the problems you described drafting my set. I printed every common x3, every uncommon x2 and every rare and mythic x1, and generated boosters by shuffling them up. Of course, you need to look at them again and do some modifications if there are five white cards and no black cards for example, which is time consuming. That being said, I can follow your reasoning for making this a ‘modular’ cube.

    As I’ve said, Yizain is a really cool planeswalker and even the hybrid fits. The second ability could cost a bit less. I like Corporeal Spark. How about a “two planeswalkers fight” spell? Call it “Celebrity Deathmatch” 😀

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