The Robot Viking entry into Magic’s Great Designer Search 2 passed muster, so we’re on to the second round (it’s not quite as exciting as it sounds). The third round requires that entrants create their own Magic set, based on a new world that will bring the card designs to life. We’ve got an interesting start, but the collaborative effort needs some help.
It seems that the first round of the contest was meant to screen out those not willing to crank out 2,500 words or more about Magic on a deadline, since pretty much anyone who entered on time made it through (I’ll post my essay answers in a minute). The second round is a multiple choice test which will be administered tomorrow. I’m not rating my chances at passing terribly high, but the whole set design thing is a hell of a lot of fun in any case. We started working on a set weeks ago, using the Star Counters mechanic. There are some great card ideas in that post, if you scroll down to the comments.
This past weekend, my brother and I refined the idea of the world and came up with some new card designs. First, Star Counters are now Fate Counters. The world the set is based on is at war. It’s a terrible, brutal, gritty war played out on bloody battlefields, fought by soldiers with swords and axes. The military theme is vital to the set. Each army is one color, so the military themed cards will all be mono-colored (and heavily so — red cards will have RR and RRR frequently in the casting costs, for instance). The war will be decided by the actions of brilliant and terrible men and women, humans, elves, dwarves…boots on the ground.
Or will it? The as-yet-unnamed world has long been beset by cosmic forces beyond the understanding of even the most insightful general. The alignments of stars and planets, the ebb and flow of cosmic energies…these things have always had a powerful effect on the denizens of WORLDNAME. That’s where the Fate Counters mechanic comes in. The cards that deal with this aspect of the world will have a greater tendency to be multicolored (the set will use hybrid mana instead of gold cards for the most part, which will make it easier to incorporate those cards into decks using the monocolored military cards).
So the overriding theme is an age-old one: freewill vs. fate.
We’ve got some great ideas for Fate cards already, but we wanted to dig into the military part of the story. To begin with, I wanted to come up with a cycle of rare generals, powerful cards whose abilities reflected not only the ideals of their colors, but also the theme of warfare. The result is a set of 6 casting cost legendary creatures somewhat inspired by M11′s titans. They’re missing the enters the battlefield effects, but have “when CARDNAME attacks” effects that I hope are fun and innovative. For now, they all have generic placeholder names.
First up is General Black, whom you can see up top. As a wraith, he inspires fear in his enemies. When he leads an assault, even his strongest foes quail and hesitate, and weaker ones are destroyed outright.
Next we’ve got General Red, above. It was tough to come up with an ability that was different than just doing some burn damage, like Inferno Titan. One option I considered is creating goblin tokens, or fetching goblins from the library. The idea is that he’s not a goblin, but he uses them as troops, and either inspires or intimidates them into fighting far beyond their natural abilities.
General Blue is my favorite. It might the most powerful of the generals. I imagined him as a follower of Sun Tzu’s tenet that knowing your enemy is the key to winning at war. Military intelligence is easily represented by just drawing cards, but that’s been done in blue many times before. I think this mega-scry ability is pretty awesome. I won’t hide it, I’m pretty proud of this one.
General White presents the first instance of needing some help. My first conception is the one that puts +1/+1 tokens on some of your creatures. The idea is a veteran warrior devoted to training his troops, drilling them until they are highly skilled.
Joe suggested that the white general make bird tokens. I tweaked it to make them enter the battlefield tapped and attacking, since I just like the way that feels. He attacks and bird soldiers come out of the sky to aid him. We don’t have a clear concept of how this general would thematically accomplish such a thing, but it’s a really cool effect. Which version do you prefer, and what kind of character might the bird general be?
Finally, we have General Green. I’m really stumped with this one. Joe suggested “guerrilla warfare” as a theme. There’s great imagery there of the experienced hunter who takes on the mantle of leadership and trains his troops to stalk through the trees and jungles like green ninjas. Every mechanic I come up with seems horribly broken, though. I really need help with this one — a green general whose ability is innovative, fits green, and reflects the military theme. Help me, Vikings!
We’ve got some other cool card ideas to show off soon as well. Even if the whole GDS2 thing goes nowhere, creating our own hypothetical Magic set is just fun.