Not With a Bang, But a Whimper – Ending My Run in GDS2

It's the official MTGCP hat

As you know by now, I didn’t make the Top 8. I want to wish them all good luck and I’m willing to help them out anyway I can (you can find me on twitter (@mtgcolorpie) or e-mail me mtgcolorpieATgmailDOTcom). I am bias towards Jon Loucks only because I’ve met him before, we live in the same area and he’s a really nice guy. We gotta not let our jobs here in Washington go to someone out of state. Keep them in state!

But enough about them.

Yes, I’m disappointed that I didn’t make it. My dream job, one that I coveted, is beyond my grasp for now.  It’s fitting that yesterday was Election Day (wait, it was yesterday? I gotta fill out my ballot), and all I can say to the numerous people who supported me is thank you. If feels as if I want to give a concession speech, and I think that this will most likely be it.

There isn’t any reason to be mad that I didn’t make it. I tried. Looking back, it wasn’t my best effort (hindsight is always 20/20). I’m not going to lash out and complain, “They don’t even know what they’s talkin’ ’bout, ’cause I’s gonna be huge.” The powers that decided this didn’t think my work was Top 8 material and I do honestly respect their opinion. I was worried my world idea was too close to what’s currently happening on Mirrodin (I’ll explain that in a minute), my cards not be powerful enough, whatever. I don’t know if I was the last one cut or the first one cut. I don’t care.

It doesn’t matter because I didn’t make it.

That only makes me more determined for next time. You’re delusional if you don’t think it’s going to happen again. I mean, since Wizards started You Make the Card which started in Onslaught block, we’ve enjoyed a steady stream of having cards the Magic community has voted on and created appear once per a block.

Hey, good news, you actually get to see what I submitted and where I think I went wrong. I know I didn’t do everything perfect, ’cause if I did I would be in the Top 8. So now, I get to unleash my inner Geordie Tait and rip apart my designs. Don’t know who Geordie Tait is? Allow Geordie to share his thoughts on amateur designers:

Do you take yourself and your work really seriously?

You do? Okay.

There’s a 99% chance your work really stinks.**

People who make their own cards and sets are the slash fanfic writers of Magic: The Gathering, slamming the sweaty bodies of design and development together with all the grace of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy snogging in a barn loft. In trying to pull off a virtuoso performance, they instead demonstrate the many reasons why Magic design is done in teams, by qualified people, with plenty of expert oversight.

There’s a vast gulf between world-class design and a text-box-stretching 3RWB sorcery offered up by some utter clown. To the untrained eye, the two can actually look similar — which means any Rosewater-reading troglodyte thinks he can do the job. As with anything mediocre, it all starts with unwarranted self-importance and a lack of perspective about one’s own work.

Amateur designers do it solo because they’re enamored with their own ideas and want credit for the “awesome” ones. The foul aroma of self-congratulatory schlock pervades everything they produce. Like jowly poltergeists, they float around card-creation vomitoriums, expelling half-baked rules text, trying to impress with the girth and distance of their regurgitations. Nothing of any value is produced.

** I’m a thirty-year-old man who writes articles about a children’s card game. 20% of my shirts feature Darth Vader in some capacity. If creating cards is that important to you, you can pretty safely ignore me.

Besides using the fan fiction metaphor before I could (which is how I feel about card design as well but now I can’t use it because that’d be stealing), Geordie’s attitude is: don’t even try. Very defeatist. It doesn’t make you want to join a community but makes the “Pros” think they’re better than the “Casual” folk and drive a steak through the game. I am very against this attitude and don’t believes this fosters good will between players. I won’t say any more, but Jake Kessler already wrote a great rebuttal.

Main point: it’s ok if you don’t know who Geordie Tait is because after this post, there’s a 99% chance you won’t hear me mention him again.

Onward to the test!

Part I – The World

Let me start out with this: I suck at creating names. Just because I write doesn’t mean I’m good at inventing language. I use the tools that someone has already created. Yes, it’s ironic that I entered a design test to create new things, it’s not the same thing. I know the rules (words have syllables and each syllable has to have a vowel vs. Enchantments don’t tap), I just don’t have very much practice with creating new words. You can tell in the name of my plane: Mesoagon.

It means great struggle.

Yeah, we’re off to a roaring start.

Here are the rest of the answers:

B. Describe your world in one sentence or one sentence fragment. (15 word maximum.)

  • A persecuted civilization teleports to an untamed world where mana is malleable.

C. Describe the flavor of your world. (250 word maximum)

  • After a mysterious attack on their civilized home world, the people of Bomonoe transport their major cities and as many of their citizen as they can to a new world. Here in Mesoagon, everything is wild. Cultures collide as the new world visitors and their structured society must deal with the natural cycle of the plane. The colors are now battling itself as the cultured side finally meets its untamed twin. Trying to teraform their new world in this hostel land has proved to be deadly.  After facing the attacks on their home world, the Bomonoe people must band together and fight back.The natives of Mesoagon, who have lived in peace for many generations, see this as an attack on their land. Since the aliens have invaded their world, they must feel to fight back. With the strength of their Gods and natural cohesion, they feel they can drive them out using any means necessary.

D. Describe your world through the lens of its mechanics. (250 word maximum)

  • It’s here that the new visitors of Mesoagon discover than mana behaves differently here, the more intense the mana given into a spell, the more powerful it becomes. It here on this plane that color matters. Creatures become more powerful if they battle with their brethren. The natives are even able to summon similar creatures using the mana this world provides.It’s with this that the two peoples are fighting for to make this their own planet. The Bomonoe are masters of changing the landscape and for altering mana to make it more useful in this setting. By controlling the mana, each of the different sub-sections of the civilization has a way to fight back against their like-minded native beings. They must become aggressive to fight back, much different then their usual life. They escaped once with their lives. But now, it’s time to fight to survive.

If you can’t tell, this was a little rushed. I could have an excuse and said I had a family emergency on Sunday for several hours that limited by time, but I won’t. I said I was going to treat this as a job and I screwed up here. Given a little more time I could have polished this better but we can’t go back in time and change things. And, as you can tell, I’m really bad at creating names. If I ever work at Wizards, I don’t think it will be at Creative/Flavor coming up with fanciful names.

Part II – The Cards

Obviously the big part of the test (though I do know that world building was a huge part of it too). The goal was to create 10 cards, one of each color, rarity, and card type. However, you were designing preview cards for the website so they had to meet certain criteria. While I wasn’t able to submit images (which would’ve allowed me to push that Colorless Hybrid idea much better), I’ll give you something pretty to look at here (I’m not digging up art though, the focus is on the card).

Returning Mechanic: Convoke.

The Split up of the keyword mechanics of the Bomonones and the Mesoagons are like this:

Infuse: Bomonones
Convoke: Mesoagons
Rally: Both

1. Jesard Mawnor (Mythic)
[Very off the top of my head, but…LandWalker, Tree Hugger, and (Name, Title) []

Planeswalker – Jesard
+1: Target Forest you control becomes a 4/4 green elemental until end of turn. It’s still a land.
-2: Search you library for a Forest card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
-7: You get an emblem with “Whenever you tap a land for mana, you add one mana to your mana pool of any type that land produced.”

This was built together by committee. Yes, he/she(?)’s kinda boring and that’s my fault. I wanted a Green Planeswalker that dealt with mana, but didn’t much more than the usual animate lands, search for lands, Mana Flare variation on all three abilities. I wanted something a little different and this is almost what I submitted:

+1: Search your library for a Forest card and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
-3: Target creature you control gets +X/+X and trample where X is equal to the green mana in your mana pool.

It had the same Ultimate. While I think that using your mana pool as a resource is underused (it may be forcing the player to do things they don’t want to do), I believe that it had great effect here. Problem: it didn’t work nicely with the Ultimate since that’s what you want to go off first. If I had changed the Ultimate to read “You get an emblem with ‘Green creatures get +X/+X for each green mana in your mana pool’.” that would’ve been cool but too close to Omnath, but opened up the middle spot for something else. I was talked out of it and you see what I ultimately submitted up above.

Again, a little more time and I think we could’ve worked more on this.

2. Persuasion Bomb (Rare)

Infuse – For each U spent to cast Persuasion Bomb, gain control of target creature.

This might have been too good. For 5 mana you’re already gaining control of 2 creatures. If you pay UUUUU you’re gaining control of 5 creatures. Yes, that might be a little insane and I may have gone overboard on this. But this was for the MaRo preview, and I wanted to go big. Too big? Yeah, most likely.

3. Bursting Wurm (Rare)

Creature – Wurm
Rally (Whenever Bursting Wurm attacks or blocks, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each attacking or blocking creature you control that shares a color with it).
Whenever Bursting Wurm deals combat damage to a player, you draw that many cards.

Designed as more of a casual card. Rally, my main combat mechanic of the block, can be seen on both sides of the conflict since they both use color to their advantage. Not every card would have trample (obviously), but this rewards you for doing an all out attack or block. I think I might have messed up and should have written “Each other attacking or blocking” because I think it gets +1/+1 whenever it does that. Meh, might not be so bad.

This was created as a twist on Exalted. You want more creatures to attack (or block), but only of the same color, something that Convoke and Infuse was rewarding you to do anyway.

If people have a problem with a Green creature drawing cards, then you and I can’t be friends (Why was it a wurm? It didn’t feel Hyrda-like. Of course, I could be proven wrong.).

4. Sunwater Beacon (Common)

1, T: Add W or U to your mana pool.
2, T, Sacrifice Sunwater Beacon: Search your library for a basic Plains or Island card and put it in you hand. Then shuffle your library.

(A common cycle.)

Yes, this is worse than Mana Cylix in a way as you can only get two colors. The trade off is that you can sac it to get the appropriate Basic Lands of those colors. Why is this in here?

Because of Infuse. You can now add more correct colored mana to your infuse spell with these in play. If you don’t need the mana, you can cycle it for three and go get mana. Yes, the second ability is more limited Horizon Spellbomb. However, this is great for budget players and/or EDH players who want to run something like this. No, it’s not an amazing card that will dominate top constructed play, but I think that cycle will find a home.

5. Macnovo, Fire Deity (Mythic)
[Inferno Hellion –]

Legendary Creature – Elemental
Macnovo enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each tapped creature you control.
At the beginning of your upkeep, Inferno Hellion [Macnovo] deals damage equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on it to target creature or player.

A Mythic cycle, all with convoke.

Yes, I screwed up and kept Inferno Hellion (it’s original name) in the text. After it was decided to make it a Legend and make it a cycle did it get the name change.

The great part of this card (I didn’t design it so I’ll let Geordie decide if this is falling in love or not) is the subtle play of the tapped creatures. Reds likes to be aggressive, so you don’t have to convoke with him to get him to get the +1/+1 counters, but swing with your smaller creatures and then cast him.

Yes, it’s another creature with trample. Maybe I didn’t need it on this one. Yeah, most likely not.

6. Enheartened Spirit (Uncommon)
[Spirit of the Last Forest – [ ]]

Creature – Spirit
Whenever Enheartened Spirit enters the battlefield, untap all creatures you control.

It helps with Convoke. It’s boring, but I know some Johnny somewhere will love and abuse it. The only other story is that I took this ability from a Planeswalker and put it on the creature, made more sense.

7. Malicious Desire (Rare)
[Spikeful Search]

Infuse – For each B spent to cast Malicious Desire, search your library for a card and exile it. Shuffle your library. Then put the exiled cards on top of your library in any order.

This shows how well Infuse was still unsure of rules wise. I didn’t want to search for a card then shuffle it away. An updated Insidious Dreams, the only thing I regret about this was that this is one card I should’ve put the clause I talked about from doing a “Full Infuse.” I was thinking of adding “If you payed all one color, draw a card” which would’ve allowed you to tutor for one thing right away. It would’ve shown an avenue for that possibility on  that front. Wasted opportunity.

8. Sycophantic Bond (Mythic)

Legendary Enchantment – Aura
Enchant opponent
Whenever enchanted player adds mana to their mana pool, you add that much to your own. (If they add GGG, you add GGG to yours as well).

My wacky enchantment. I don’t think the game has enough Enchant Opponents. Yes, it was inspired by Psychic Possession. Legendary because of a loop

9. Brilliant Charge (Uncommon)

Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.
Infuse – For each G spent to cast Brilliant Charge, target creature gains trample until end of turn. For each W spent to cast Brilliant Charge, target creature gains vigilance until end of turn.

(Yes, this is a colorless spell. The idea is that one can use Infuse to adapt it to what they want it to be. This will be a small cycle, much like the ones in Shadowmoor).

Wanted a cycle of five for the first set. The other ones were also going to be allied colors (as with most everything in cycles in this set). The trick was having abilities that all colors could get, but if you played them in the “right” colors, you get a bonus. This is what the “colorless hybrid” turned into. I still think that can work, it just needs more time and more eyes.

10. Rosalivia, Submurged Refuge (Rare)

Legendary Land – Island
Each land you control is an Island in addition to its other land types.

(A cycle to help promote new people into Legacy and Vintage since it can be fetched and help create dual lands).

I already talked about this before, so I don’t think I need to go over it too much now. Yes, the Green one works great with the Green Planeswalker since it didn’t say “Basic” Forest. It also helps with Infuse as well, and hopefully you noticed I made them Rare. They’re Legendary for power reasons, like Urborg, and they don’t affect your opponent’s lands. Why? Would need testing in development; I don’t know if that would be my area.

Don’t say I don’t love you guys.

So, what did I learn? Designing this way is so much harder than you realize. It’s not just taking other people’s ideas and making them your own, but the fact that there was almost no direction for you to take this. Yes, you were free to do whatever you wanted, but as MaRo says, “Restriction breeds creativity.” Even in this world design stage, it was still too open. I’m sure that they didn’t want to read too much of the same thing, but it might have been a little too open for me to succeed.

Of course, I might have put in too many cycles as well. I may love cycles too much (something I’ll get to in another post).

Am I happy with the cards that I submitted? Yes and no. I think there is potential there, but they weren’t the best they could possibly be. By best, I don’t me Spikeish and costing 2, I mean the overall evolution of that particular card. The Planeswalker was still going but ran out of time.

Again, I want to thank everyone for their support through this journey. Was I depressed when I didn’t get into the Top 8? Of course, it just felt like I failed and doing something I loved. But, I’m picking myself back up again and continuing on. This is a passion, and I’m going to keep doing it.

Use the comments for whatever you want. Rip apart my designs, my world, my complete lack of creating new words. Oh, and thanks for sticking with me through this really long post.


6 thoughts on “Not With a Bang, But a Whimper – Ending My Run in GDS2”

  1. Another great look inside the process. We need more people writing about this kind of thing.

    And don’t sweat the loss too much. We’ll get ’em next time. Like you say, they’re gonna do this again real soon.


    P.S. Thanks for the shout out.

  2. I like a lot of the cards you posted here. I have to say that I think a few of them are too good, but you have some really interesting stuff here. I do love the planeswalker, even though he wasn’t quite done yet. A man after my own heart, that Jesard. The one thing I disagree with the most here is Bursting Wurm. I have no problem with green drawing cards, but the potential number of cards that could be drawn there… is pretty ridiculous.

    I say keep these designs and keep contributing to the wiki. Develop this stuff a bit more, because the things you’ve experimented with, with color of mana and stuff, are really interesting and (I think) are relatively unexplored design space.

  3. +1 loyalty to search for a “Forest” card would have been awesome. Le sigh. I’m biased with the version I suggested (-2 ability to put X 0/1 plant tokens into play to protect the planeswalker) but either way the version you suggested with +1 to search is more exciting already than the one you actually submitted :-/

    In my opinion the red mythic feels color-pie-wrong. Convoke in Red doesn’t seem to fit (Red decks are often creature-poor). I get that Trample happens on some hasty elementals, but I would not have used Trample here. The ability with counters seemed OK. With the cost that it is this almost seems like it should have been a big flying dragon (and dragons make good villains for the storyline which I think this was for Savor the Flavor right?)

    You might not like your card names, but at least Persuasion BOMB was appropriately named, hah. 🙂

    #3 seems too powerful as-submitted. Draw cards = damage dealt would be better than all of the Blue creatures that have a similar effect. And what is the flavor of a wurm drawing cards = damage it dealt? Trample + Rally makes some sense. Maybe something akin to a Gaea’s Anthem effect for green creatures when it attacks or blocks? That way it benefits from attacking creatures *and* it helps those attacking creatures. Off the top of my head I just thought up flavor text too, might be awful but whatever here you go 🙂

    “The roar of the wurm is enough to frighten the hardiest of invaders.”

    #7, #8 and #9 are all very interesting cards. I really like #8 in particular as I would definitely play that in EDH and maybe a wacky standard deck.

  4. The wurm is silly, id actually be afraid of getting decked with him in play in limited lol. That ‘walker is soooo boring, why does he randomly koth them?

  5. What I think killed you is the blue card with infuse. 5 Mana to take 5 creatures is essentially Time Walk power. If the card were to be printed and then run, mono blue would dominate aggro late game.

    Rally seems very very similar to Rampage, only it depends on your creatures colors rather than opposing creatures. Also, you needed more commons, I’d venture. I feel like the scrub cards are harder to make than the rares, but I don’t know what the number reqs were past the mythic/rare/uncommon/common criteria. Given Ten cards, I’d have done 1 mythic (planeswalker), 2 Rares (creature/enchantment), 3 uncommons (instant/sorcery/creature), 4 Common (creature/aura or equipmentor artifact/instant or sorcery/creature)

  6. I’m sorry you didn’t make the top 8 R. I was pulling for you big time. Been reading your site and I am a big fan of your writing.

    The comments about fan fiction that you posted…

    Man. It’s a game. Were adults. We write and talk and play a lot of what is, no doubt, a game. So what? It’s always easy to tear someone down who takes risks, who creates.

    Remember this rob. No one remembers the critics. The creators are the ones who push things forward. Be it in writing, deck design, card and set design or in any artistic and creative endeavor whatsoever.

    Now help me make a novablast wurm edh deck.


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