Custom Card Game Design

Crucible – Wedges

Following up on my last post introducing Crucible, I wanted to share the initial design and philosophy behind what will be the third set in the Crucible block, featuring the three-color ‘Wedge’ groups.  The playtesting on the Hybrid set that was featured in my last post is going well, and the ‘Shard’ set is still in a rough-draft phase that needs another revision pass before playtesting.  Today marked the first real designing I have done for the wedge set and I am getting pretty excited about the possibilities.  I’ve got a first attempt at mechanics for each wedge that I’d like to share today.

White/Black/Red – Crusade

The WBR Wedge was the first one I tackled, and has the potential to be my favorite.  In the custom card community you tend to see a lot of similar mechanics, however I’ve personally never seen one that messes with the cleanup step.  This is probably for a reason – in a normal format I don’t know that Wizards would want to clutter up the field with a lot of damage counters on creatures.  That being said, one of the goals of this format is to create complex, compelling gameplay even if that sacrifices the tenets of the ‘New World Order’, and so I’m ok with the complexity of this mechanic.

Though there isn’t much of a story for this block, each group does have its own aesthetic theme and this Wedge’s theme is Crusaders.  The wedge is made up of Knight Templar types who are willing to sacrifice even their own well-being in a holy war.

This Wedge plays into Red and White’s military prowess, White and Black’s religious tones, and Black and Red’s Brutality to create a very dangerous double-edged sword.

Blue/Red/Green – Overcharge

The URG shard’s mechanic is overcharge and, as you can probably tell, it will need a lot of playtesting.  One of my favorite mechanics in MtG is Proliferate.  I hated Infect, hated poison in general, but I love the combo potential of being able to manipulate counters on things like levelers and planeswalkers.  Counter manipulation has been a small sub-theme in the hybrid set, and of course planeswalkers are a big thing in all three sets, so a counter manipulation mechanic has the potential to be extremely powerful.

Thematically, this wedge will focus on the manipulation of primal elements, the spellcasters in this wedge acting as mana conductors themselves to overcharge everything around them.  It’s likely that there will be a card in this wedge that produces elemental creature tokens with overcharge.  There will, of course, be many creatures with counters on them within this wedge however I intend to be more creative than simply making everything come in with +1/+1 counters.

Black/Green/White – Resurrect

The BGW wedge is the first of two wedges that have a great connection to the graveyard (together with BGU).  The distinction wasn’t too hard to make, however.  The BGW wedge focuses on creatures who shrug away death in the form of Resurrect (which is, in essence, a Persist/Undying variant).  This mechanic is less flashy than the others, but also very powerful and plays well with other cards in the block, particularly the black/green witch doctors from the hybrid set.

This wedge will feature spirits, both vengeful and benevolent varieties, and will have a subtheme of token creation/augmentation that should go nicely with the token component of Resurrect.

Red/White/Blue – Tribute

To date, Magic: the Gathering has never truly tackled the Wedges.   If you go to gatherer and search for cards with any three colors in a ‘wedge’ combination, you’ll only return 4 or 5 cards per color group.  I firmly believe that the reason for this is the RWU wedge.  Compared to the other wedges, this color group is very difficult to design for.  Ultimately, the keyword I landed on, tribute, draws more from each color’s philosophy rather than their mechanical identity.  White’s love of order, blue’s intellect, and red’s passion combine together to create a very political combination (seen best in Zedruu the Greathearted).

Thematically, this wedge will have a greco-roman republic feel to it, with a heavy control feel.  I’m interested to delve into this wedge but also intimidated – it will be the hardest of the five to design.

Green/Blue/Black – Recycle

As mentioned earlier, this wedge (much like it’s BGW cousin) deals with death and the graveyard.  In this case, however, the creatures in this wedge don’t defeat death – they use it.  This group takes using creatures as fuel for spells to another level entirely, potentially sacrificing creatures to fuel their spells and then recycling mana from those corpses in their graveyards to further fuel spells.  I’m pretty excited about this wedge, not just because of the design possibilities but also because I think I’ve honed in early on to a vital distinction between this and the BGW wedge.

Necromancer will be a new creature type featured in this wedge, and thematically describes the entire wedge – necromancers who use other creatures to fuel their powerful spells.


The work here is still very early stage.  I’m not sure that any of these cards will actually make it into the set – rather they are simply quick mockups to exhibit the design ideas that will be found in this third set of the Crucible block.  I’ll share more as development continues, and will also be sharing info on the playtesting of the Hybrid set and the revisions and eventual playtesting of the Shard set.

Thanks for reading, and your feedback is much appreciated!


4 responses to “Crucible – Wedges

  1. HLedbetter May 19, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Holy shit these are awesome. The cards in this site seem so much more professional than most other custom cards out there. The art is appropriate, the cards are formatted correctly and pleasing to the eye, and the mechanics are unique. The cards are a bit OP, but that’s what The Cube is all about.

    One suggestion – change the color of the frames to gold or silver so as to differentiate the cards as their own format. Seems silly by a small aesthetic thing like that may help to get players in the right mindset for a set like this.

  2. Circeus May 19, 2013 at 10:51 am

    TBH, I can’t say I like the idea of an entire mechanic being a mana accelerator, and “only isntants and sorceries or abilities” feels way appropriate in a green wedge, unless the “wedge” color is specifically meant to be nondominant, but I don,t believe that’s what comes across from the other wedge mechanics.

    If it weren’t for overcharges, I’d have crusade use a new type of counter that counts as damage (and this is defeated by indestructible, unlike infect and wither). Seems way simpler than the “nonvanishing damage” thingie, which seems to be asking for memory issues, and will be marked with damage anyway.

  3. adventmtg May 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Those are fair points. I like the philosophy and flavor behind recycle, but you’re right in that it feels a bit disjointed from green. I’m sure this, like many of the other ideas here, will be tweaked as the set progresses.

    For crusade, it’s a tough nut to crack. I actually considered the very solution that you suggest, but it didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to (and, as you said, is a bit much in a format with a counter-manipulation mechanic). As with the above, and all the mechanics, this will likely be tuned as the process moves on.

  4. Tahazzar October 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Here’s the recycle a bit more fixed IMO (although I’m not sure // can’t remember can you have an activation inside a mechanic like this…):

    Recycle (Exile a card from your graveyard: Add one mana of any color of the exiled card to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast instant or sorcery spells or to activate abilities. Recycle only once per turn.)

    So is this the only mechanic that doesn’t really get better in multiples? If so, it’s a bit lame. Or this supposed to be activable for each permanent you control with recycle?

    On crusade is the last reminder sentence not “*This* damage is not removed from…” I would kinda expect that, since “all creatures have wither” (or pretty close to that) on a random mechanic is a bit weird. … Actually, “Until this [permanent] leaves play, this damage is not removed from…” could be better.
    This mechanic certainly requires some playtesting to get the feel how many “damage” counters is acceptable on a complex board situation.
    Nevertheless, Crusade is certainly the most interesting of these mechanics.

    In general the mechanics felt very good. One of the bests I have seen on the countless other experimentations on enemy-wedge sets. I would suggest checking all those other experiments up.

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