Custom Card Game Design
On Core Sets
August 8, 2013Posted by on
The past few weeks, my custom design efforts have been re-invigorated. I had been stuck on the custom cube project (which has been shelved indefinitely) for so long that I had forgotten why I enjoy designing custom cards so much. I’ve rediscovered the fun in custom design by actually playing with the cards – specifically, revisiting the Caeia block, and playing with Antares’ underwater set ‘Iamur’. If you’re reading this and you’ve never played with custom cards – maybe you’ve frequented custom card creation boards but never actually loaded them up in MSE, Cockatrice, or just printed proxies – I encourage you to do so. It’s a blast!
So, for the last two weeks I’ve been playing with these custom sets, which has helped with the development of Caeia (there have been a lot of changes made to several cards across all three sets to hopefully provide for better gameplay.), but one conversation has always come up no matter who I’m playing with – This needs a core set.
Core sets are awesome. They’re a great way for beginners to learn to play the game, a great way for a ‘pure’ MtG limited experience, and they add a fantastic toolbox for constructed. I’ve toyed with the idea of making my own core set for awhile now, eventually to tying it in with a second custom block to create my own ‘custom standard’. It’s a fun exercise – core sets are largely reprints, but the trick is finding the right reprints, enforcing strategies from the previous block as well as the future block, while providing balanced and entertaining limited gameplay in its own right. So, recently I’ve done just that.
I had several goals in mind when setting out to create the ‘Advent Core Set’. they were:
- Reinforce the mono-color matters theme from the Caeia block.
- Reinforce the following archetypes from the Caeia block: Discard, Mill, Reanimator, Life Gain
- Reinforce the tribal themes from Caeia (I know the next block is not going to have the same tribes, and won’t have much tribal support at all, so I wanted to round out my humans/merfolk/vampires/goblins/elves with this core set.
- Bring in Landfall as a returning mechanic.
- Reinforce future themes (Among other themes, a strong focus on tactical creature combat. What blocks, when it blocks, how it blocks, etc.)
And, to top it off, I wanted an entertaining limited environment.
I have yet to see if I’ve succeeded or not – indeed, I’m not even finished with the set, and it will continue to evolve the more it’s played with and the more feedback I receive. But I will say it’s been very entertaining, and I think has helped me grow as a designer a bit – which is always the goal here, as I still have a lot of room to grow.
I’ve packaged the core set as a plugin for Cockatrice, both as a standalone set and combined with the Caeia block. As of this point, I will no longer be updating and MWS plugins or creating any MWS plugins for any of my future sets – I simply don’t like MWS and don’t want to take the time to make sure it works. If you wish to make a MWS plugin, you may download the MSE file for any of my sets and create a plugin with relative ease. One note to that regard – the MSE file for this core set is somehow corrupt. After saving, closing, and reopening there is a lot of data loss – creatures missing P/T, cards missing flavor text and artist credit, etc. I’ll make a new file some day, but for now if you want the full core set you’ll need to download the cockatrice plugin – give it a shot, I promise you it’s fun!
Please leave any feedback you may have, and if you’re interested in connecting on Cockatrice for a game, please let me know.