Note: If you don’t care at all what I have to say, there are links at the bottom of this post to my set. You can view the whole set at once, or view it by rarity or colour.
As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month. I decided that like Memorial Day, Christmas, or any other special occasion that originally had some sort of meaning, I would twist the celebration to my own purposes. I later found out that there was an offshoot of this called National Game Design Month, but my project doesn’t actually fit well into either category so whatever. My goal was to create an entire set of 229 cards (plus 20 basic land to make it 249), and, time permitting, try to work on the rest of the block.
As it turned out, time was the bottleneck of this project. Thirty days is more than enough time to get a workable draft of a set together to send to development, which was my goal. However, I have a full time job and a part time life, so being able to dedicate the amount of time necessarily to this project proved rather difficult. Were my attention not forced to be divided by so many different things, I’m sure I could have finished this portion of the design in about ten days.
The Design Process
The design process was pretty awesome. I did a design skeleton for the set to start, which took about two hours. Much of that time was spent compulsively making sure I had the proper quantities of each rarity, colour, and card type. From there, obviously I went to designing the cards. Originally I tried to just go in order: CW01, CW02, CW03, etc. That proved to be a fairly restrictive and counterproductive idea, as my mind would either wander from being too pigeonholed, or while brainstorming ideas for one card I would think of ideas that belonged elsewhere in the set. It’s a seemingly small and fairly obvious lesson, but it’s still something I feel was important to experience.
As for designing the cards, obviously it was a ton of fun. If I didn’t think it would be, I would never have attempting something like this. Finding creative uses for my new keyword was a large part of the fun, and it resulted in a couple cycles of cards as well. Cycles are something that players seem to love and I think they’re a great design tool. Interestingly enough, I only came into the set with one cycle in mind, but I wound up with a few of them. A blue common for limited resulted in a cycle of cards that not only seem fun for limited, but helped tie the flavour of the set together. A passing thought to push the power level on a creature resulted in a cycle of legendary creatures, which in turn resulted in a cycle of artifacts I’ll mention later.
Now obvious I realize that this set isn’t being rushed to the printers after two years of development, but I still found this to be a great exercise, a ton of fun, and hopefully something the community enjoys enough to orchestrate drafts of.
What’s In a Name?
Overall, I’m happy with the design of the set. There’s some limited fodder that I’m not entirely sure about, and there are a few cards that I am fully aware are really pushing the power level (But hey, that’s development’s problem!). When all is said and done though, I am proud of the rules text of the 229 cards. I should note now that not all 229 cards are new. As with any set, I chose to reprint some cards to fill necessary roles in limited. I could have made functional reprints, but there was no compelling reason to do it. I also accidentally designed an equipment that had already existed in Darksteel but that I had long since forgotten about. To my credit, I did come up with the exact same casting cost, equip cost, and commonality on my own. So I guess that leaves the question of what am I not happy about? The answer: card names.
I did my best, I really did. Or at least, I did the best job I possibly could given I only had three nights remaining to name almost every card in the set. Some of the names I’m really happy with, some of them are a bit generic, and some are probably just terrible. I freely admit that I find card names to be the hardest part of design, and I absolutely suck at proper names. In fact, while I did finally name the plane Adican, I don’t even know what the name of the set is. I named the other two sets in the block (the next set is Inquisition!), but I can’t find the perfect word for this one.
I mentioned a cycle earlier though, and it resulted from my difficulty with names. I had the cycle of legendary creatures I mentioned, as well as a single multicolour mythic that was designed specifically for EDH. While having trouble naming a rare artifact that was designed for EDH, I decided to name it after the EDH legend. Because why not. At that point I noticed that five of my other rare artifacts actually could be named after the other legends. This was completely unintentional, but the artifacts just happened to line up with abilities most common in the five separate colours. This was, without a doubt, the best moment of naming the cards.
I’m Not Sure That’s My Job
There’s one part of the cards that is largely missing. This was because of time constraints, and I’m not even sure it’s design’s job. You’ll notice, however, that most of the cards are missing flavour text. This is a big deal to me simply because having flavour text (and some better card names) are key to bringing the flavour of the set together. I wish I had more time so I could have taken at least an attempt at this, but self-imposed deadlines exist for a reason.
“How is That Different From Fading/Vanishing?”
This is the question I was asked most when I previewed cards from my set. I bring back the keyword “affinity”, but I also have a new keyword: instability. Instability works as such:
Instability X (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an instability counter on this. Then, if there are X or more instability counters on it, sacrifice it.)
Yes, it looks like fading or vanishing except that the counters go up. Technically, it is. However, by virtue of the counters increasing instead of decreasing, it opens up a huge array of abilities and flavour. It will become more obvious what I mean when you take a look at the cards, but for the most part the more unstable something becomes the more powerful it is. It’s no longer just a countdown to death anymore! I mean, yeah it’s that too and there are some vanilla guys for whom that’s all it is, but other cards make use of these instability counters as well, and I think by simply inverting the countdown to a “count up”, it opened up a lot of design space. That, or my head is up my ass. Either way.
Oh yeah, and you’ll also note that there are no cards with instability in white. There’s not as much story to the set as there should be without the flavour text (I mean in my mind it’s all there, but you can’t see inside my head), so in short the plane of Adican is reveling in its excess and chaos, but Althalos, the Righteous wants to restore the plan to a place of law, order, and piety. And he doesn’t care what it takes to accomplish that goal.
Where’s the Damn Spoiler, Already?
You don’t wanna hear my story? Fine, fuck you. Here are some links. There’s the whole list of course, but you can also view specific rarities if you don’t want to look at what you might consider “random limited garbage”. If you so choose, you may also view the cards by colour. You racist.
I hope you enjoy looking at the set, and by all means leave me feedback here, via e-mail, or on Twitter. I would love to know what everyone thinks of all my hard work. A special thanks also goes out to Robby (@mtgcolorpie) for taking a look once I had finished and making a few notes. I didn’t agree with all of them, but it’s amazing how helpful a second pair of eyes can be. Anyway, thanks for viewing!
*Remember: This was all designed by me in a single month. That means the only development process was me theorycrafting, so I realize there might be balance issues for limited or that some of the cards with which I tried to push the power level may have gone a little too far. Not saying I don’t want criticism, just keep that in mind. Oh, and there’s no expansion symbol cause I couldn’t figure out the damned utility in MSE.
Note: These pages were generated by Magic Set Editor. If you don’t like the layout, blame them, not me!
Multicolour, Artifacts, and Lands