Custom Card Game Design

Set III: Eternity

I’ve already talked briefly about ‘Eternity’, the third set of my Esparand block, here. You can now find a small preview under ‘Our Projects.’ The set has a very peculiar setup: I want to conclude my time-based block with a set that doesn’t focus on time, but on timelessness instead. Here’s a very brief summary of the story:

Niusha ventured into the tumultuous center of the Storm of Time. She destroyed the artifact from which it feeds its energy, and subsequently the storm collapsed. However, instead of returning to normal, the flow of time on Esparand suddenly stopped. The plane was frozen into one eternal moment and time ceased to exist.”

How will this theme be represented in the set? Obviously, you can’t go too far with it, and make the set play just like the flavor would command it to. As it turns out, stuff happens in games of Magic. These are some of the ways I try to represent timelessness within the set. While they are a good start, I still need some more subthemes to flesh out the set.

The graveyard remains an important focus throughout each set.

Art choice

The first thing one will notice when opening an Eternity booster is that the atmosphere is very melancholic, and everything seems to be frozen. There won’t be much action happening in the artwork at all. While for my other sets, gathering artwork only had the intent to make it look better, here it’s an essential stylistic device.

Of course, I can’t rely solely on the artwork to carry the flavor. The cards must also be able to speak for themselves, even only with the card text.

Mechanics of Eternity

I mapped out how I want to distribute the mechanics within the block. Epitaph and Consign are the major focus mechanics and should be present in all sets. With its focus on determinism, Foreshadow is a great mechanic to have in Esparand. It will be rotated out in favor of the Eternal mechanic in Eternity. In Storm of Chaos, the Paradox mechanic will take its place, which I will present next time. Steer fate as the supporting mechanic will also stay present in all sets. In addition, subthemes will rotate between the sets: Esparand had extra turns as well as sequencing spells. Storm of Chaos will have split creatures. What it will be for Eternity, I don’t know yet.

But let’s take a look at Eternity’s main mechanic:

“Exile target creature until end of turn” is valid card text (Banisher Priest & co.).

Eternal {cost} (You may cast this spell for its eternal cost. If you do, change its text by removing all instances of “until end of turn” and exile it as it resolves.)

Eternal is probably my most favorite mechanic for this block, simply because all others turned out to be extremely difficult to word, and still people have difficulties to grok them. Eternal stayed exactly the way I first designed it. It has a slightly limited design space. The majority of the cards will be pump or shrink spells, but there are possibilities beyond those.

Journey Across the Stars is a differing design. It can be used to blink a creature (to save it from removal), or to exile a creature forever. It is the only “modal” spell of the bunch; on all others the eternal effect is strictly better if you have the mana. While it is not the most efficient card for either mode, the versatility could make it playable in Constructed.

Symbols for infinity

Rings can be used as a symbol for infinity.

Other than for Eternal, cards are currently not any different from those in the other two sets. There has to be continuity within the block, but Eternity still needs one or two other subthemes to differentiate itself. There could be bunch of creatures that enter the battlefield tapped, or a lot of cards that prevent untapping, but that feels lame and probably doesn’t play that well either.

I’m thinking that the best bet is to have cards that represent symbols for eternity and/or infinity, such as an Ankh, infinity loop, butterfly or phoenix. Rings also represent infinity, and they were never done before as equipments, for some reason.

Epitaph works great here. In Esparand, the flavor of the mechanic wasn’t really obvious, but for Eternity it fits perfectly.


4 responses to “Set III: Eternity

  1. Circeus December 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Does solitary remembrance really need to cost that much? Sou’s Majesty is only 4G and at 5G you get Grim Flowering.

    • antaresmtg December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      It’s easier to get online than Grim Flowering since you only need a single creature. But I also considered costing it at 5 and making it rare.

      • Circeus December 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm

        Well, if Collective Unconscious costs significantly more than Soul’s Majesty, I’m not convinced Remembrance should be the same cost as Grim Flowering, but I might be misjudging the ease of getting green fatties in the graveyard.

    • antaresmtg December 5, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Getting many creatures out or getting a creature with high power out both require a good deal of effort. Milling over a single Ghoultree doesn’t. That’s my reasoning.

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