GDS2, Episode 1 Design Challenge Elimination

Posted in Feature on November 24, 2010

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

One of the hardest parts of the GDS is that each Design Challenge I have to eliminate a candidate. After today, there will only be seven designers remaining. I will list each designer's name. If you click on it you will see whether they are in or out. Candidates that are in will have a green CONTINUE PLAYING. The candidate that is eliminated will have a red GAME OVER. I will then give a short summary of where I feel they stand or why they were eliminated.

Shawn Main


You were the winner of the first Design Challenge. You were given a very complicated puzzle to solve and I feel you did so excellently. While you have plenty more kinks to work out (blight is moving in the right direction, but isn't the perfect execution yet), I am optimistic in your chances. The big challenge for you is finding a way to represent the rest of the world as well as you are representing The Blight.

Devon Rule


You presented an interesting world concept along with a daring mechanical connection. You showed us a hint of it in red (in your design test); and your first Challenge demonstrated that you have some solid ideas for black. My biggest concern is that you have to find a way to take all these compartmentalized ideas and mesh them together. Also, there is supposedly a conflict between the natives and the invaders. I'm not seeing that conflict yet. Nonetheless you had a good week.

Ethan Fleischer


You have my favorite block concept. My biggest issue with you is that you don't know what to do with it yet. The good news is that you did a good job listening to the judges and your submission started hinting at what we can expect. This week you have to really wrap your brain around a block that evolves. The idea has such great potential for mechanical interweaving. Let's see it.

Scott Van Essen


Your submission had a lot of strong cards and your overall world concept is one of the most fleshed out. I see lots of potential. What I want to start seeing now is realized potential. You have a neat conflict and setting, but the mechanical connection needs to jell. Be careful to make cards that are fun to play.

Daniel Williams


Of all the world concepts yours is the one that I have the most commercial confidence in. I also feel like you have one of the best senses of the flavor of your world. My problem with you is that you are not getting your mechanics up to the level of your ideas. You have created numerous mechanics, showdown being the best example, that read cool and are conceptually awesome, but don't actually play well. Remember in a game that game play will trump image every time. I believe in your idea, and I know there are cool mechanics that are flavorful that will also play well. You need to find them.

Jonathan Woodward


You had a rough week. Your submission was too wordy and too complex for common. You have neat mechanical ideas but you don't quite know how best to show them off and you haven't got a good sense of what is appropriate for common. Buried under the many lines of text are cool concepts. You have to scale them down to their roots and find a way to keep the essence alive without the extra baggage. Be aware though, you were in this week's bottom three so you have your work cut out for you.

Jay Treat


I feel you have a neat world concept and given time I believe you could find a way to mechanically parallel it. Unfortunately, you made some poor design choices and ended up with the weakest submission. In addition, your cards did not do a good job of defining your world, leaving the judges confused with what exactly was going on. I wish you had stuck with hybrid as it was the only use of hybrid among all the world concepts that I felt justified its inclusion. I hope you stick with design as I see a lot of promise in you. I'm sad to have to let you go.

Jonathon Loucks


Of all the submissions, yours was the one I was the most disappointed in. I considered you one of the frontrunners coming out of the design tests and it was hard to see you stumble so hard. GDS2 is about executing one's vision. You have a great world and you had the biggest jump on it mechanically. But the assignment was to start figuring out how to show your world through commons and you turned in a series of cards, that while intriguing, were not common. Yes, I need an intern that has great ideas, but I also need one that can follow instructions and execute on their vision with cards I can print. I am being harsh right now because I have great faith in your abilities. Stop designing what you want to show me and start designing what I'm asking to see.

And then there were seven ...

But for these seven, the work is just beginning.

Click here to see Design Challenge #2.

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