Custom Card Game Design
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!