Custom Card Game Design

A Set of Dream and Fantasy


Eternity is finally completed! Check out the full spoiler here, or take a look at an example booster. But now for something completely different:

Dreams and Nightmares Come to Life

I have been brewing up a new set lately, a set based on dream, nightmare and fantasy. It will be another top-down set, similar to Iamur. It does not have a name yet, so I will just refer to it as ‘Dream’ for now. The setting is a plane where the dreams of its people manifest in the physical world. I started with developing a mechanic for nightmare creatures, and then wanted to see where this leads me to. On this plane, dreamborn creatures are living enchantments, similar to the celestial creatures of Theros. This is portrayed in the ‘Nightmare’ mechanic:

Nightmare {cost} (You may cast this spell for its nightmare cost. If you do, it isn’t a creature until you manifest it.)

Nightmare is only found on enchantment creatures. It allows you to pay an alternate, cheaper cost for the spell. However, you must then manifest the creature and allow it to enter the physical realm. Otherwise, you only have a useless enchantment. Whether or when a creature manifests is usually up to your opponent. The fear of your lurking monster will force the opponent to play differently, or otherwise it will manifest. Here is a very simple example:

A common nightmare creature.

Many nightmare creatures demand a toll from the opponent to keep them from manifesting. In fact, I am considering that all common nightmare creatures share Stirring Fiend’s template and drain the opponent’s life to keep the complexity low. But there are many more possibilities at higher rarities. Some will trigger when an opponent performs a certain action:

An uncommon nightmare creature.

At rare and maybe uncommon, I consider creatures that already have an effect on the game while they are only an enchantment.

So, an Enchantment Set it is!

The nightmare mechanic went through various iterations before I arrived at the current version. When I did, it became clear that this is going to be an enchantment-focused set. However, to differentiate it from Theros, in ‘Dream’ you will not build your own battleships with Auras and Bestow creatures, but play global enchantments and build your own world. I tried to convey this with the ‘Fantasy’ mechanic. Fantasy is an ability word found on enchantments:

Fantasy — At the beginning of your end step, {action X}. Then if {condition Y}, sacrifice this.

A dream often has no coherent plot, but continually gets weirder and weirder, until eventually you wake up. A fantasy enchantment performs a certain action repeatedly, until the “wake-up condition” is met, at which point it will sacrifice itself. Before I show you an example though, let me state something important that I want to convey on these cards: Dreams do not make sense! They are surreal, paradoxical and incoherent. To uphold this is even more important in a fantasy-game like Magic. Dreams cannot be just about giant spiders and wurms, because they already exist! That being said, here is a fantasy:

A fantasy enchantment.

Some of these fantasies allow you to play in a way so that you never meet the “wake-up condition,” just like you can sometimes keep yourself in a dream willingly. Others will sacrifice themselves inevitably. I might want to create cards with effects that do not trigger at the beginning of the end step, so it is possible that the ability word is changed to include those cards as well.

Supertype Inflation

Many people complained about Theros, that it had too many types artificially attached to various cards, such as “Legendary Enchantment Artifact.” This will be true in ‘Dream’ as well. There will be creatures that do not have Nightmare but are still enchantment creatures. These represent dreamborn creatures that did not spawn from a nightmare. But the enchantment type must make sense from a mechanical point, too. I think Theros’s method of putting global effects on enchantment creatures (Cyclops of Eternal Fury) works very well.

An enchantment due to its enchantment-esque effect.

Similarly, I cannot make an enchantment out of every monster. There have to be commons that do simple things, yet still represent nightmarish creatures. Maybe these creatures walked the physical plane long enough that they stopped being tied to the dream from which they spawned?

Unlike the elf, this creature clearly spawned from a nightmare!

Nonenchantment mechanics

The set still needs one or two more mechanics which do not deal with enchantments, as they are covered sufficiently already. Scry will return in ‘Dream’, but will not be as prominent as in Esparand. I am thinking of something instant- and sorcery-based as the last mechanic.

That is all I have come up with so far. As always, you can check out a preview of the set under Our Projects. Let me finish this post with another preview card from ‘Dream.’ A… basic Swamp!

The surreal nature of dreams will reflect in the art I choose for the set.


7 responses to “A Set of Dream and Fantasy

  1. Reuben May 1, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Just wondering how you are going to deal with black and reds difficulty in dealing with enchantments. Theros block did a good job at avoiding this by making nearly all of them creatures. Just something to think about with your fantasy cards.

    • antaresmtg May 2, 2014 at 4:21 am

      Definitely something to think about. Maybe colorless enchantment removal would work, something like Brittle Effigy for enchantments.

  2. Max May 3, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Found this blog from a forum link, some cool stuff! I’m working on some mtg cards myself, your work gives me some inspiration to get a move on! ^^

  3. adventmtg May 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Great concept! Love the art, flavor, and I’d kill for that elf.

    I’m not entirely sold on Manifest yet, though I can’t put my finger on why. Will have to see more.

    Fantasy is a great concept – a bit complex but that can happen. Any ideas for a simple, common example of fantasy?

  4. antaresmtg May 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    A simple example could be a Curse of the Pierced Heart-type card that sacrifices itself when the opponent is at low life. But I’m currently considering something else for the Fantasies: A cycle of enchantments that have some global rules-changing effect, for example Doran as an enchantment at uncommon.

  5. Pingback: Dreams of Lyanar | Adventares

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