Custom Card Game Design

Mana Everywhere

For a long time, I have had the idea to design a set focused on mana, with many different and unusual mana costs, but mana costs that would still make sense in the context of the card’s abilities. You could argue that any multicolor set is such a set, but I do not think of this set as just a multicolor set, although multicolor cards are very dominant. The plane of choice for this set could be Shandalar. As the MTGSalvation wiki states: “It [Shandalar] is a relatively small plane and incredibly rich in mana. The magical energy is so prevalent, that it all is sentient, and the common people use minor spells as an everyday convenience.”

So, it makes sense that a Shandalar set focuses heavily on mana, with many mechanics associated with it. Here is an example:

The blue card from the common 5-color abundance cycle.

Abundance checks whether or not you have specific colors or amounts of mana in your mana pool, but it does not actually use up that mana, so you can easily chain multiple abundance spells in one turn. Is that potentially broken? Probably not. I mean, at best it is an Ancestral Recall; that seems to be acceptable these days. Some abundance effects could also just check for the amount of mana in your mana pool instead of the colors. Important is that the conditions are consistent within cycles, so that it does not become too confusing.

The set would feature new mana symbols, hybrid mana, gold cards, and heavy monocolored cards. All of this must be held together somehow; a set where you expect monogreen and five-color both to be viable, will certainly not work out unless the mechanics heavily support it. Cards like the “Word” cycle would help. They are my take on tri-color hybrid cards and can be played in many different decks, although they are best in a deck that can use all modes.

The Bant and the Grixis card for the Word cycle.

This is more of a theoretical project. I do not plan to make a whole set out of these ideas, but I want to explore what is possible with the themes and mechanics I have in mind. What would a set focused on mana look like? If you have ideas, I want to hear them as well.


7 responses to “Mana Everywhere

  1. adventmtg January 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Is there a way to template abundance on creatures? I can see a lot of design space if creatures got specific benefits only when X mana of Y color is in your mana pool, but the templating may be a nightmare.

    • antaresmtg January 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      You’d probably have to do it with activated abilities “activate this ability only if {mana} is in your mana pool.”

      • Matt Limoges January 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm

        When CARDNAME enters the battlefield or Whenever CARDNAME attacks/blocks/becomes tapped/dies?

      • Matt Limoges January 10, 2015 at 10:59 pm


        Geyser Hawk 1U
        Creature – Bird
        Abundance – When Geyser Hawk enters the battlefield, if there’s R in your mana pool, it gains haste until end of turn.

        Just a thought, there’s quite a lot of design space here.

  2. antaresmtg January 11, 2015 at 10:09 am

    That drake is quite a nice and simple design. If you do triggered abilities, they should only trigger when you want to have mana in your mana pool, so attack/block triggers don’t work very well.

  3. adventmtg January 11, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Honestly, I know you said you don’t want to do a whole set on this, but I think you could if you wanted to. There’s a lot of space here. I want to see a mana dork that taps for any color of mana, so long as you have GG in your pool. Also, because you’ve got to have some hate, have a blue card that empties X mana out of target player’s mana pool, and a red card that burns based on how much mana opponent has in their pool.

    • antaresmtg January 11, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      I’ve added a file with a few cards on my page, including a card based on your suggestion.

      On finishing the set: My priority is Overworld -> Lyanar -> Shandalar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: