Custom Card Game Design

On Core Sets

My attempt at a red Core Set walker

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 Set-shifted Felidar Sovereign

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.

One of the cards from the core set meant to help round out the vampire tribal theme from Caeia.

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!

Download Advent Core for Cockatrice

Download Advent Core plus the Caeia Block for Cockatrice

Please leave any feedback you may have, and if you’re interested in connecting on Cockatrice for a game, please let me know.


5 responses to “On Core Sets

  1. RuneclawBear_Grylls August 11, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Great blog. Was directed here by your Reddit post and am not disappointed, I’ll definitely be checking back often. I played with your set on Cockatrice, it’s a lot of fun. Some of the cards seem pretty overpowered but I wasn’t able to make any sort of deck that really abused them yet, so that may be just right. Fortifications seem kinda weak.

  2. RuneclawBear_Grylls August 11, 2013 at 12:17 am

    By the way, that black enchantment you linked is a pretty similar to your card Sanguinarum. They’re both good but you might want to pick just one and cut the other.

  3. freddyjsg August 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    A core set for Caiea and your custom sets seems like a great idea once you got a certain number of cards. About the Black enchantment, the way its worded makes it so the enchantment would fall at EOT. It should be worded the way Dream Leash is worded (Play CARDNAME only on a creature dealt damage by a vampire this turn).
    A question about the reprints: Will they be core-shifted cards, or cards from your previous sets (I guess core-shifted is now the name for that, althought i’ve seen that on Caiea with Journey to the Heavens), or cards from your previous sets?
    Thanks for the Caiea images by the way, i got all common cards scripted by now in Forge

    • adventmtg August 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Oh wow I didn’t realize you were working on a forge plugin – that’s awesome! The only thing I worry about there is that I’m still making changes (mostly small changes and grammatical changes) to Caeia – is there an easy way to edit the forge plugin once it’s made?

      As for the reprints – most of the reprints in the core set are straight up reprints, just like any core set. They are just specifically selected to (hopefully) play well with Caeia.

      • freddyjsg August 14, 2013 at 9:22 pm

        For the grammatical changes, there is no problem, most cards only require small changes to the code.
        I made some changes to some cards. For example Haunted Ruin creates a hard lock onto a opp with no cards on hand so i changed it to sorcery speed, and most of the instant and sorcery spells with purity are now modal, (I don’t have a lot of skills for that, and most people in forge forums are busy with other aspects of the game), but they play like they should.
        A funny fact is that i started with Iamur, but most of its cards were too crazy, and i didn’t know how to implement them (It isn’t less awesome)

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