Custom Card Game Design
Over the past week, the magic community has gotten a ton of information about where the game is going in the near future. The first real spoilers for Khans of Tarkir have been shown at Pax (and as of this writing, spoiler season has begun), and MaRo dropped a bombshell on all of us by announcing the advent of a new block structure – the three-set block has gone the way of the dodo, as has the core set, and we are about to enter the era of two-set blocks twice per year. I couldn’t be more excited!
The Third Set Problem
The biggest reason for the change in block structure is something MaRo refers to as the ‘third set problem’. Basically, by the time you get to the third set of a block, many of the mechanical ideas have already introduced and iterated upon, and the third set tends to be difficult to design – easily becoming underwhelming or overpowered as the pendulum swings too far to one side. The MtG designers have tried this by varying up the third set of a block – Rise of the Eldrazi and Avacyn Restored were both self contained formats within their own blocks. New Phyrexia saw the victory of the Phyrexians and a host of new themes and mechanics to go along with it. And the most recent third set, Journey into Nyx, was solid only because the middle set, Born of the Gods, was intentionally held back so that the final set would have some potency.
This is something I experienced myself when trying to design Annihilation, the third set of my first custom block. Although I had a definitive three-act story, by the time I began work in earnest on the third set, many of my mechanical themes had already been exhausted. I had a lot of problems with Annihilation, and I’m still not 100% happy with it. My current custom project was headed towards the same problem, so much that I had already decided to vary it up a bit (more on that later). Future story was daunting to me because of the established three-set block structure. This new block structure fixes all that.
On Telling a Story
I (obviously) really enjoy custom MtG design, even if I’m not always that great at it. As my first block began to take shape, I began to consider where I wanted to go and have had a roadmap of sorts that spans the entire story I want to tell. Caiea, my first block, began design work around the time that Innistrad came out, and so at that point I decided that my custom multiverse and the MtG multiverse were separate – after the events of new Phyrexia the universe literally split and my custom sets exist within an alternate multiverse. At the time, my stories and MtG’s stories didn’t conflict, so there wasn’t much needed to go into detail about this. Khans is changing all of that.
When Khans of Tarkir was announced, we learned that it would be a time-travel story. The story I have planned out is also a time-travel story. Recently, it’s been determined that Ugin is a prominent story-point in Khans of Tarkir. Ugin is a prominent character in Caeia. There will soon be story elements within MtG that contradict my own, and so I’m taking this opportunity to lay out my ultimate plan (which may or may not come to fruition, given how my opportunities for custom design come in focused bursts with several months of inactivity in between). I want to finish this story at some point, but I’d like to just put my outline out there now so that it can be seen where I’m going. What follows is an outline, per block/set, of the story that started with Caeia that I eventually plan to tell. Adjustments have been made to the plans post-Dareth, to accommodate the 2-set block structure.
Caeia Block (events occur in an alternate multiverse, following the events of New Phyrexia)
Zendikar Unsullied Block
So… it’s a lot. And it’s not the most original story, it’s a standard time travel story in a lot of aspects. But it’s the story I want to tell, and hopefully years from now I’ll be able to look back on this post as I put the final touches on Hedrons and be able to realize I finished what I set out to do. We’ll see.
Thanks for reading!
EDIT: There were a few glaring issues in the original plugin. I’ve re-uploaded a revised version, which can be found at the same link.
It’s been about 2 and a half years since I started work on the Caeia block – my first custom MtG block – and recently, several things have come up that have made me want to revisit it. When I finally ‘finished’ the block, I had vowed to come back to it at some point, and indeed I plan on coming back to it many times in the future, so my revisiting it now comes as no surprise to me, and frankly it kinda helps get past the designer’s block I’ve been having on my custom cube.
Now, at some point I intend to go back and do a big revision, making large scale design changes to push or reign in certain strategies, as needed. This revision isn’t like that. Instead, I’ve made small changes, mostly to the number of cards per set and the rarity breakdown – I’ve cut a card from Caeia to bring it to 249, as opposed to 250, and I’ve changed the rarity on some cards to make the rarity breakdown match the standard that WotC has set. I’ve made similar changes to the other two sets in the block.
There are very few ‘new’ cards in the block, and the cuts I’ve made were weaker cards that never felt right to begin with. There have also been slight grammatical and templating fixes, and some slight tweaking of casting costs and effects to make certain keystone cards viable (see: Summon the Masters).
Finally, I’ve compiled a new cockatrice plugin for the set. You can download it here, and if you’re interested in playing let me know. I’ll also be putting together a new plugin for Antares’ set Iamur, which I can say from experience is a blast to play. I’m sure he’ll put up a link for that plugin once it’s finished, and I’m certainly interested in playing it as well. (NOTE: The plugin removes your current card database and replaces it with the database for Caeia. To restore your original database, run the uninstall program shortcut that should have been put on your desktop by the installer)
Thanks for reading, and don’t be afraid to leave comments!
Well, I’m two months behind schedule, but as of today the initial design of Annihilation is finished! (outside the 10 or so Eldrazi I intend to add eventually.) Of the three sets in the block, this has by far been the most difficult to get to this point, and today I’d like to talk about some of the difficulty I’ve experienced up to this point and how I’ve dealt with it, and then finally talk a little about where I intend to go with the set from this point.
For those who are just hopping into this, a few bits of information. Annihilation is set 3 of 3 in my first custom block. The block takes place on the plane of Caeia, a world where all colors of magic are heavily segregated (ie; a heavy mono-color theme), that is besieged by the Eldrazi after being released from their planar prison of Zendikar by a cult that worships them. The primary theme of this set is the hopelessness of the situation… because of the segregation of mana, and the prejudice and hatred between the major cultures of the plane that stemmed from that, the denizens of the plane are unable to unite together and mount an effective defense and are ultimately and utterly destroyed.
Putting this theme forth in the set proved to be challenge number one. How does one design cards that represent entire cultures that are losing and being destroyed? At the end of the day, I found several things that helped me with this. First of all was art. You’ll notice that almost all of my cards have art associated with them – I have a very difficult time posting anything without art. This is because, to me, the art is part of the design process as a whole. The art tells a story that the card alone simply cannot. Finding art that portrayed characters who seemed to be in despair, or bleak and hopeless situations seemed to help.
The second method I found to portray the theme of loss and despair is to emphasize it mechanically. One of the first mechanics from this set that was previewed is named Despair, and it appears on a 5-card cycle. Although the mechanic could have easily been reworded to be a positive mechanic while remaining functionally identical, by wording it as a negative mechanic I was able to show the despair of the situation via the mechanics.
Third, I portrayed despair by portraying hope. Not every denizen of Caeia is giving up… many are fighting valiantly and inspiring hope where there would otherwise be none.
Finally, the fourth method of portraying the despair in the block is through the flavor text. This is something that largely has not been done yet. I’ve attempted to put flavor text where it quickly comes to me, but I have not yet put much time into coming up with flavor text, although I intend to once I’m putting the final ‘polish’ on the block as a whole.
One of the things that has surprised me the most throughout this entire process is how hard it is for me to design fortifications. Many times I would set out to design a fortification and it would either end up being terrible, or not a fortification at all. More often than not, designs that began as fortifications would end up making more sense as simply a nonbasic land or a global enchantment, or even a plain old artifact. The ones that did still make sense as fortifications would end up being unplayed because they weren’t worth the mana.
I approached the fortifications in Annihilation very carefully, and provided this approach works out, I plan on redesigning the fortifications in the previous two sets to match this philosophy. I gave myself the following guidelines to attempt to stay with (I strayed occasionally) when designing fortifications. They were:
Taking this approach, many of my recent fortification designs I think are much better than previous. Thematically, a lot of the new fortifications seem almost like ‘upgrades’ to a castle, like something you’d find in an RTS, and this is something I’m quite alright with.
Another difficulty has been that Eldrazi are hard to design. You can only have too many big colorless fatties before they begin to become boring – in fact the fewer you have, the cooler the rest are because of their uniqueness. Right off the bat, this caused me to design the Consume mechanic, as I wanted to make sure I had a way to present Eldrazi besides what had been done before. However, Consume is terribly difficult to balance because of how punishing it can be to your opponent.
Similar to how I dealt with mill, I’ve tried approach this by giving players additional opportunities if consumption counters exist, rather than make it easier for them to add more consumption counters. The card above, The Aeon’s Torn (not only a reference to Emrakul, but also the actual name for this peace of art) may not make the final cut, because of how difficult it is to use effectively, but concepts like this will be built upon until Consume is a valid strategy, but not too powerful. Cards that get around the punishing side of Consume without hosing consume strategies completely are also in the set to hopefully keep it in check.
As an Eldrazi set, it’s very important that, by the end of it all, the Eldrazi in the block truly shine, and with this in mind I intend on expanding the number of cards in this set to include 10 more Eldrazi-themed cards, which will hopefully bring the right feel to the final product.
The final problem I had during this design process is that some of this stuff just sucks. There are multiple examples of cards, like the one above, that are poorly though out, poorly executed, and just plain bad. MaRo has said that he never gets designer’s block, and frankly I’m amazed. It’s become very difficult for me, recently, to come up with solid designs that fit within the set flavorfully and mechanically. I’m getting there, slowly, but there’s still a lot of stuff in the set file that’s simply terrible, and I don’t really have much of an excuse, except to say that these things will improve as the development process commences, and that nothing should presented today should be taken as being in any final form at all.
So where do I go from here? The plan is that, after a fairly brief development pass on the 3rd set as a whole, to extensively look over the entire block and redesign or develop as needed, to make the entire block more thematically and mechanically unified, as well more fun to play. I’m going to look at each card in each set and ask the following questions:
There’s more that will be asked during this process, but this is just an example of how in-depth I intend to get during this final development phase. After this is done, extensive playtesting will follow in which the cards will be tweaked to provide better gameplay. While I’m not certain this set will ever be in a form that I consider 100% complete, my aim is to have this in a releasable ‘beta’ form by the end of this process, hopefully by winter of this year.
I’ve already received an amazing amount of feedback from many MTGS posters, as well as some posters here. Not to mention the great amount of help that I’ve received from my friends locally. In particular, I’d like to thank Antares (Apoquallyp on MTGS), Prophylaxis, and AranMagnus for their help in getting this far. If I’m the ‘lead designer’ for this set, these guys can certainly be considered an integral part of the design team.
If you, reader, are interested in helping during this final phase of the development and playtesting, please respond here! I need many people helping playtest, and I need people to help me just go over all the cards with a fine toothed comb looking for grammar and templating problems. If you’re interested in helping in any way, please let me know! It looks like I’ll be at Comic Con Dallas in October, and I intend to bring the set in cube form (along with, most likely, some constructed decks) for playtesting, if anyone is going to be there and wants to help out!
As always, thanks for reading!
I’m back! At least… for a little while. I’ve unfortunately fallen quite a bit behind the schedule that I had set for myself on the design phase of the Caeia block – by this point, my plan had been to be finished with the design of Annihilation and working on developing the entire block as a whole, before releasing the whole thing for playtesting. However, one has to pay the bills, so I’ve been traveling a lot on business.
Now that I’m back, I’m going to try and get back into the design of Annihilation. It’s becoming a slow process, in part because it’s hard to move ahead when, looking behind, you see the issues that need to be resolved. Taking into account playtesting from Caeia and Eldrazi Unleashed, there are some definite weak points that need to be addressed:
This isn’t to say that it’s all bad… there are a lot of things that feel incredibly right at this point.
Today, I resume the design process on Annihilation, trying to keep these things in mind as I move forward. Once I’ve completed the initial design phase, I’ll be going back and looking at the block as a whole, hopefully fixing the problems listed above, plus many others, while strengthening what’s already working. In the meantime, I leave with one quick look at the redesign and development process.
This is Avienne, or at least this was Avienne. Avienne was one of the first cards designed for Caeia, and is still arguably my favorite (being a Green Ramp player at heart). If you’ve read up on planeswalker design at all (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend checking out Antares’ article here.) you’ll notice the problem. While her +1 and -2 abilities work very well together, allowing you to fish up the creature you need one turn, then generate the mana to pay for it the next, her ultimate makes her +1 completely obsolete.
After going back and looking at the set, I’ve finally revisited Avienne and changed her ultimate. While it is, mechanically, a nerf to the card, it makes the card more flavorful and synergetic. I think I can safely say that, barring anything unforeseen, this is the final version of Avienne:
time to get to work on Annihilation! Until next time, take care!
Today, I want to talk about my favorite part of custom set design: Playtesting. Most custom sets, maybe even as many as 9 out of every 10, never make it this far, but for those few who have I’m willing to bet their creators would tell you it was the most rewarding part of the entire process. There’s something inherently awesome about playing with a cardpool that you created yourself and finding combos that you had never intended or even thought of. Seeing your cards play well together, even better than you expected, is a feeling that you just don’t get in other facets of MtG.
Meet Grillek. Grillek is my favorite legendary creature of the block, and arguably my favorite card from the block. In Block Constructed playtesting, decks built around Grillek are a dominating force, yet are not grossly unbeatable. This is not by mistake, however. Grillek has gone through more testing and more changes than any of the cards in the block. The goal with this entire process being the creation of a healthy and diverse environment for both block constructed and cube limited, it is important to me that we eliminate problematic cards to avoid having a single deck dominate the format (CawBlade, I’m looking at you.)
So, since Grillek has gone through extensive playtesting, let’s take a look at where we started, what changed throughout the process, and how we got there.
During the design process of the 2nd set, as is my custom, I designed some broken cards. This isn’t entirely on accident – as I’m designing the basics of the set, I often simply fill in my design skeleton with rough thoughts, in this case the thought being ‘a goblin that grabs weapons and armor from anywhere he can find it’. Not knowing exactly how to balance this, but knowing that it was likely very broken, I decided to let it slide until playtesting, and once we got the playtesting phase I learned two things. First, the card was broken as hell (notice that, at this point, the card wasn’t legendary). Second, and more surprisingly, it was the most entertaining card I’ve ever played with.
This discovery took me back a bit… I’d intended for this card to simply be a powerful rare aggro creature, and yet it was a ‘build around me’ card that was basically the collective wet dream of both Johnny and Spike (and Timmy liked it too after seeing just how big it could become.) What was even more surprising was that I had perfect support for this kind of card already in the set, with cards like Goblin Looter setting things up perfectly by dumping equipment cards into the graveyard while generating card advantage, and cards like Gideon, Hopebringer able to seal the deal by fishing up whatever you needed. Knowing this, I set out to balance the card.
This is the second iteration of what would become Grillek, and it was almost completely unplayable. You’ll notice a few things… first of all, his converted cost was raised from 2 to 4. Second, we removed the haste component, and last we made him legendary. While the effect still seemed theoretically powerful enough, the constructed decks built around this card refused to get off the ground, and in limited he was an extremely low pick, and almost never played.
The biggest point to make here, however, is that there is much more to take into account than the card itself. In a format with the Mirrodin Swords cycle available, even this last version of Grillek is completely unprintable. As it stands, the current version of Grillek (the one at the top of the post) is still extremely strong, because of the sheer effectiveness of its support. Reviewing and discussing this card on forums wasn’t enough to figure this out – in fact it was never even commented upon. It had to be played to determine it’s power level.
So, there’s a bit of insight into what the set goes through during playtesting. For those of you working on your own sets who want to start playtesting, here are a few pointers:
Hopefully, this article was entertaining and these pointers were helpful. Have any other pointers, or any questions? Leave some comments!
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Hello again, internet! I haven’t posted in a few weeks, obviously. Hectic changes at work left me unable to put time into custom design for a little while, which is a good thing in and of itself, as I think taking a break every once in awhile to clear your mind and perform a mental reset, so to speak, is a good thing for creativity.
That being said, I am back, and for those who might be following my threads on MTG Salvation, the first thing I did when I was back was complete several balance passes for Eldrazi Unleashed. The set itself has come along rather nicely, I think, and it’s been rather fun to playtest with friends of mine. This weekend, I’ve asked the MTG Salvation community to, if they feel so inclined, help me with playtesting in any number of ways, and I’ll echo that request here. If you are interested in helping playtest, here are a few guidelines:
All that said, with Eldrazi Unleashed in playtesting now, it’s time to focus creative efforts on the finale of the block: Annihilation. A quick rundown of what the set will contain and what I hope to accomplish with it.
As the Eldrazi Invasion has progressed on the Plane of Caeia, the invaders have begun to consume the plane around them. This is a slightly different aspect of the Eldrazi than has been put forth before, lending itself to a more control feel instead of a ‘ramp to something enormous and smash your face’ feel. The fact that many of the strongest strategies in the format rely on a high number of colored mana costs, this effect can be devastating.
As mentioned previously, this cycle of lands will be present in the set. They’ve already undergone a lot of redesign, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are changed more and more throughout the development process.
Another cycle that has been discussed previously, this 5-card cycle will be the only place where the Despair mechanic is used. Although it may not be popular to use negative mechanics, I have just felt like this conveys the flavor so strongly that I’m willing to overlook it (and the people I regularly play with tend to agree.)
Meant as both a mana fixer and a foil to consume, the Pathfinder cycle will be present in all 5 colors.
Another exampled of the Epitaph mechanic. As their world crumbles around them, the denizens of Caeia take inspiration from their fallen comrades.
Of course Bolas had to be involved. From the start, I’ve intended that set 3 will feature a bit of a side story that would tie Nicol Bolas’ machniations to the plane of Caeia. Bolas has shown strong interest in releasing the Eldrazi, and has clashed offscreen with Ugin (who, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is a native to Caeia and the founder of the Order of the Silver Flame) at least once.
The planeswalker itself is designed by MTG Salvation user AranMagnus, my best friend IRL and the primary playtest and creative support I’ve had on this project. The card may very well see some development, but the basic idea is likely to remain intact throughout the process. As a side note, it’s a bit obvious from his art that he’s not native to Caeia – this is intentional. He’s supposed to be a clashing entity.
And that’s it! Again, if you’re interested in assisting with playtesting, please let me know, and as always please leave some comments if you like what you see!
I’ve never played Planechase or Vanguard, my Archenemy experience is limited to Duels of the Planeswalkers, and the only Commander I’ve ever played are a few 1-on-1 duels using the pre-cons. This makes me a bit sad. Last night, I started delving into the rules for each of these game types, and I liked what I saw. As these are all casual formats, and custom set design is (in my opinion) the ultimate casual format, I’ve decided that all my sets need to be accompanied with some cards that support these formats. Now, the cards I’m about to link are rough ideas that have never been playtested. In fact, as said before, I’ve never played these formats so I don’t know what the correct power level should be, rather I’m basing it off of what I see online. But here are some rough ideas…
This would represent the most basic facet of the plane Caeia – colors of mana are segregated and don’t mix at all. The formatting on this card seems a little off, visually, which is something I’ll have to play with, but the concept should be obvious. Playing this in your planar deck definitely helps you (assuming you’re playing a Purity deck, which if you’re playing this you should be), allowing you to ignore the drawback but seeing it potentially hurt your opponents. The Chaos ability might be a bit over the top, if it ever gets to be playtested we’ll adjust it accordingly.
Archenemy is a fun prospect, suited perfect for the character of Elaara (the Vampire Planeswalker from the first set). Of all the casual formats, this is the one I most hope to test. I’m not sure if I’ll develop Schemes for anyone other than Elaara, but I have some fun ideas with Elaara. Creature destruction, Mind Control effects, 1/1 black vampire creature tokens, and discard effects would all fall within her formidable arsenal, and I can see her being quite a challenge to take down. Sounds like fun to me.
The last casual format I intend to design for is Vanguard. As I understand it, Vanguard is the oldest of these formats, dating back almost to the beginning of the game. I’ve seen the Vanguard cards on MTGO but never paid them much attention. Of all these formats, Vanguard is the one I’m most unfamiliar with, and the card above may range anywhere from insanely broken to so underpowered in the format that it will never see play. Still, it looks like a fun casual format, and the one that’s arguably the most accessible. I’m not sold on the frames, as these haven’t seen updates for the modern era. I might do some digging at the MSE2 home page and see if there are any updated templates that I might use.
This card is representative of the green planeswalker from the first set, Avienne, Greenspeaker, and the ability on this card links closely to Avienne’s +1 ability as well as the signature ability of Aldrean Greenspeaker. The Greenspeakers are a sort of druidic order that serve Emriss, the Grovetender, and cultivate the forests on Caeia (namely the forest of Aldrea). Avienne is my favorite card from set #1.
That’s all for today. I keep seeing hits on the site, so I’m going to keep posting. If you like what you read, or have any suggestions or input, leave some comments!
Phase 1 of my current project, Eldrazi Unleashed (Previously Amaretto, Set 2 in my custom block ‘The Hubris of Caiea’) has been completed! You can find .PDF files, MSE set files, and MWS plugins on this page (along with files from the first set in the block – Caeia)
I approach design in three large phases: Design, Development, and Playtesting. I’m not entirely sure of the inner workings of WotC, but my understanding is they approach things the same way. This first phase, or the design phase, consisted of filling my design skeleton with cards that were functionally and flavorfully more-or-less what I wanted to see. This isn’t to say that I won’t cut some cards, add some card, or redesign come cards (hell, this is still happening with set 1), but the majority of these cards should functionally remain the same.
I’ll be moving on to stage 2 of the process, in which I rely on many posters on mtgsalvation.com as well as any friendly reader here to provide feedback. I’m a terrible developer and I won’t be surprised if there are a lot of broken things I’ve done here. As mentioned in previous posts, development is a bit easier here due to my design philosophy. This set exists for two formats alone – block constructed and cube drafting. Therefore the cards don’t have to be balanced around eternal formats and the set doesn’t have to be balanced around booster draft. I’m not sure how long this process will take, but I’m sure it will be rather lengthy and will overlap with phase 3.
Phase 3 is the most entertaining phase of the design process for me: Playtesting. I’ve primarily playtested via Winchester Cube draft via printed proxies, and block constructed via printed proxies and MWS. I much prefer the proxies method and if you’re in the Oklahoma City area and would like to participate in playtesting, please contact me here or on twitter @RussHenderson and we’ll set up a time to sling some spells.
All in all, this set has been very entertaining and I can’t wait to slog through design to get to the ‘fun part’. As always, please comment, spread this around on Twitter, etc.!
Eldrazi Unleashed, or Amaretto, had some major work done on it this weekend. All told, the design-phase for the set is about 85% complete (After design comes development, then focus playtesting). Per my previous post on this blog, my design focus has changed and that has in many ways freed up a lot of design space. To give a brief summary, I’m no longer designing with the intent of making this a WotC style set. Instead, I’m completely ignoring booster draft and designing solely towards two formats: Cube draft and block constructed.
In many ways, the effects of this philosophy change won’t be immediately felt for me. The first set is already finished from a design standpoint, and the second set is 3/4 of the way there. This means that, in both sets, there are ‘filler’ cards that aren’t playable in constructed or in cube drafting, but are necessary for booster drafting (a format in which the block will never see play). While it’s still early enough in the process for set #2 that I can still make changes, I’ve decided not to go back and rewrite history in regards to the first set.
That being said, I still have a lot more freedom from this point forward. Though I’m still going to be sticking to traditional rarities for the remainder of this block, I’m much less tied to them (Since rarity exists for 2 reasons – balancing booster draft and selling packs). I also get to stop adding ‘filler’ cards for booster draft, allowing me to accomplish the same effect per set with fewer cards. Finally, I can continue to design cards without regard to any eternal format (From the beginning, I decided to ignore standard, modern, and legacy/vintage in my designs, as it takes WotC a team of people who do this professionally to get things right, and I’m only one man), allowing me create cards like today’s offering.
First off, let’s get the obvious out of the way. This guy would (probably) never see print. In a world where the swords cycle, argentum armor, and a dozen more hardcore equipment cards exist, this dude just gets nuts. I say probably, because WotC has done stranger things and while this guy is good, I don’t know the Modern, Legacy, or Vintage formats to know if he’s any better than some of the silly decks that exist out there. He’d definitely never see print in a standard or extended environment that included SoM block. In any case, I have the luxury of not having to worry about this, and what results is a very entertaining card.
Even though the set isn’t even completely designed, much less developed, a friend and I went ahead and printed out proxies for a few constructed decks using cards from set 1 and cards that we had from set 2. One of the decks I put together was a red/white deck that focused on playing Grillek here and filtering for some equipment. Goblin Looter (also from Set 2) was a powerhouse in the deck, and I think R/W Grillek would definitely be a constructed archetype. However, we also found that there enough answers for it in just about every color that it really didn’t feel overpowered. One exception to this was this card, from set 1, but we determined that the issue was really the equipment and not Grillek himself (The equipment was on our watch list anyway). It’s since been cut from the set, and I think we’re better for it.
When I began working on Caeia, the first set of my first block, I knew I wanted to do a strong mill theme in blue, but I didn’t want to make it overpowering (Too much mill makes things far too strong in limited, where you’ve got 20 fewer cards to worry about milling. This is something I still worry about, at least until we get further playtesting done). So I wanted to try and come up with a way that mill could win the game without decking an opponent without breaking the colorpie too much. Of course, Innistrad block does this by pairing blue with Zombies, and including flashback, but I began working on this before anything in Innistrad was spoiled, and the zombie theme wouldn’t work here anyway.
In my setting, the Merfolks of Telvan surround their home with a mystical haze that acts as their defense – stealing away the memories of those who are unfortunate enough to wander in. They call this area the Blinksea, because when you walk in, you seemingly walk right out in the blink of an eye (because you have no memory of what happened inside). This memory theft is represented by the mill theme, and opened up design like this card. Typically, black is the only card that interferes with the graveyard, so this seems like a stretch of the color pie at first glance. My justification for this is that blue is primarily interacting withnon-creature spells in the graveyard, something blue has shown some slight affinity for in the past.
When we first started playtesting this card, it cost much more to both cast and to activate. That was quickly determined to be to ineffecient and the card was never played. This current version is costed fairly aggresively, but early playtesting has shown that it’s right on the money. There’s something uniquely fun about milling your opponent’s red deck and then hitting them with their own burn spell for lethal.
Thanks for reading! If you like what you see, or you’re simply interested in giving feedback, leave some comments!