Custom Card Game Design
A somewhat different planeswalker
June 10, 2013Posted by on
I recently watched some guys talking about game design, and one of the big points they made is that not every idea has to be in this game you’re currently designing. I think that’s very good advice, seeing how hard it sometimes is to restrain yourself and not implement every single wild idea you have. I know at least I’ve made myself guilty of that in the past, and most new designers tend to do that alot.
Because of that, I have a file where I store those ideas, until the right moment has come to use them somewhere. I originally intended to use for my Esparand set the Chandra I made a while back. She discards cards, that fits perfectly into a graveyard based set, right? But as I fleshed out the setting more and more, I just couldn’t come up with a reason why she should be on this plane. And I’m already making a new Liliana, so that would be two returning planeswalkers, which is lame.
I was designing this character called ‘Niusha of the Spires’, a young mage who has seen her own death and whose time is running out. But she didn’t have a card yet, and I needed a new planeswalker. Her abilities should reflect the “My time is running out” part, so maybe her design should be something similar to Sarkhan the Mad? No plus abilities that is. Fortunately, I still had this old design of a Jace version lying around. It fits perfectly! Niusha became that Jace with a few changes. Sorry, Jace!
Alright, a planeswalker with X in its cost! That’s where I started the design, and here is my thought process: As the main way to get more loyalty counters on her is to just play her for more mana, she shouldn’t have any plus-abilities. She can have a zero-ability, but it should care about her current loyalty, otherwise you can just play her for X = 1, repeatedly use that ability and her casting cost wouldn’t matter.
So, what do you get? You can cycle her for two mana. That’s not very appealing. For three mana, you get a bad Jace Beleren. For four+ mana you get a split card between Claustrophobia and Jace Beleren. Now it’s getting interesting, but the real spice is in casting her for seven+ mana, using her ultimate and still having her around to draw a few cards or tap something small down. Obviously, once you get to cast Time Stretch with her it’s just broken! Sure, even at that cost you’ll rather play Karn Liberated or Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, but maybe her versatility can make up for it.