The Great Designer Search 2 – Meet the Finalists

Posted in Feature on November 3, 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.

It all began with a ten-question essay test, which led to 1120 submissions. Then 790 applicants took a fifty question multiple-choice test, which resulted in 101 applicants advancing to the third round, where they were given a design test that required them to create and then preview a brand new world.

I personally reviewed every design test, narrowing down the field to 30 applicants. For the next round, I reviewed all three tests together to further narrow down the field to 15. The fifteen submissions, all three tests, where then reviewed by a panel of designers— Aaron Forsythe, Mark Gottlieb and three former GDS applicants and current designers: Ken Nagle, Mark Globus, and GDS1 champion Alexis Janson.

When the dust settled, eight remained. These eight will now advance to the "show" portion of the Great Designer Search 2. Today I will introduce each of the eight finalists. A week from today, our panel of judges will critique their design tests, and we will announce the first Design Challenge. As with the design test, you all will learn of it the same day as the finalists, because you are an integral part of the process. Each challenge will require the applicants to use some submissions not created by themselves but rather by all of you.

The Wednesday after each Design Challenge, we will reveal the submissions of all applicant still in contention. One week later, our judges will critique the work and I will eliminate one of the applicants. This will continue through five Design Challenges until only three remain. Those three will then be flown to Wizards of the Coast in lovely Renton, Washington for a full day of interviews and challenges. One will walk away the winner and become a design intern for six months during 2011.

Before I introduce out Top 8, I want to remind everyone that the GDS2 is a little different from the GDS1. The skill highlighted during GDS1 was card construction—how good were the designers at designing Magic cards? The GDS2 is looking at a slightly different skill: holistic design, a.k.a. vision. The Top 8 were chosen less for their execution than for the potential of their worlds.

The execution was important because we had to believe they have the ability to reach the potential of their ideas, but vision was given priority over execution when cutting to the Top 8. Be aware that design, like any art, is a subjective medium, and that a different group of judges on a different day might very well have ended up with a different Top 8.

I do want to stress that I was quite impressed with the design tests and the hard work that was clearly put into them. As I have said numerous times, the most difficult thing about any GDS is that I have to reject everyone but one person. There are many people with great passion for design, but there were only eight slots available. I strongly urge any designer who was knocked out to stay involved on the Magic Wiki, both because the finalists will need your help and because the internship is not the only entryway into the world of Magic design. We will be paying attention on the design work that gets used by the applicants.

With all that out of the way, let's meet our finalists. One last note: Because of laws regarding employment, we are not allowed to show photos of our applicants. As such, we've asked each one to choose a piece of Magic art to represent him.

Ethan Fleischer

Current Residence: Portland, Oregon

Occupation: Bookseller and freelance web designer. I am also an amateur comic book writer/artist and animator and a husband and father.

What Magic set did you start with?
I started playing with my friend's Beta cards and had to wait for interminable months for Unlimited Edition to be released so I could buy some cards of my own.

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
I am a casual player to the core. I don't even have a DCI card. After some serious thinking about it, I decided that I am a Timmy in my heart of hearts. I love big, splashy plays (whether I'm on the giving or receiving end of them), I play as an excuse to socialize, and I don't like winning too much because it makes me afraid that my opponent isn't having fun. I like Vintage for the huge plays that are common in that format, and Booster Draft because is provides a reasonably level playing field and lets us play with cards that we otherwise would never consider putting in a constructed deck.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card?
Form of the Dragon. I love top-down designs, and Form of the Dragon pushes that concept about as far as it can go.

What is your favorite Magic card to play?
Yawgmoth's Will. I just got my copy recently, and that card is almost always huge in its effect, but if different every time you play it.

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship. (This is the first essay question.)
I'm Ethan Fleischer. Currently I'm a bookseller (specializing in Philosophy, Archaeology, and Anthropology books), a web designer (specializing in Flash design and development), a comic writer/artist (specializing in comedic space operas with heavy themes) and an animator (currently working on an abstract short film about Magic's colors' philosophies). I'm also married and have three sons.

I've been a hobby gamer since I discovered D&D back around 1987 or so. I've been playing Magic since shortly after Beta was released, so I have a good appreciation of how the game has evolved over time. I had most of the cool old cards, but sold them at some point (around the time Black Lotus was $75, if I recall correctly) at a hefty profit, leaving me with no rare cards from the old days. I introduced some of my co-workers at the bookstore to Magic, and organized a booster draft league which has been going for a few years now. We've sampled a variety of formats, both two-player and multiplayer over the years. Recently, I've been slowly acquiring Vintage staples in the hope of eventually competing in that format when my life slows down a bit.

I think that I would be a good fit in a design internship because I have a lot of experience working with teams on creative projects such as films, video games, music, and comics, both in a leadership role and as a mere cog in the machine (I suspect that the latter is more relevant in this particularly instance). I have designed several miniatures combat games over the years, with mixed success. I've read a lot of MaRo's and Tom LaPille's articles since then, and I believe that many of the lessons have sunk in. I've watched Magic R&D's transition from card design to set design to block design to "five year plans" and found it to be quite a revelation.

To see the rest of Ethan's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Jonathon Loucks

Current Residence: Seattle, Washington

Occupation: Game Designer

What Magic set did you start with?
Onslaught (Butcher Orgg was the first Rare I opened.)

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
A psycho-whata? I can tell you it's true what people say about me, "Johnny Loucks likes a combo." I actually enjoy most strategies as long as I'm playing a deck of my own, or that I've put my own spin on. I'm happiest when I feel like I'm a part of my deck. My favorite constructed format is extended - the larger card pool usually allows me to find just the right deck for me. Since moving to Seattle, however, I've grown to really like drafting. I love getting better at the game through the advice of great players around me, and each draft is a new challenge.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card?
That's a hard one for me, as I'm often impressed by the design on simple things like Ajani's Mantra or Vulshok Heartstoker. If I had to pick, though, I'd say Awakening Zone. I think the Eldrazi Spawn mechanic as a whole is really awesome, and Awakening Zone highlights that mechanic well.

What is your favorite Magic card to play?
Mulldrifter. I'm still not sure exactly why, but that card pushes my buttons perfectly. It just has such a pleasant motion - tap a chunk of lands, drop a card onto the table, grab some cards off the top of my deck - it all feels so good. An honorable mention goes to Gifts Ungiven - my favorite card to build a deck with, though it's pretty horrendous to resolve sometimes.

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
My name is Jonathon Loucks, I live in Seattle, and I have a degree in economics from the University of Washington.

I'm a game designer and I love it. I've had jobs working on all kinds of games from TCGs and collectible miniature games (CMG) to board and family games. Working on a TCG for kids, I experience first hand the importance of audience in design. I know the technical aspects of games and have created the technical rules document of a CMG. Having worked at multiple start-ups, I've experienced every aspect of a game company: creating a game from the ground up, writing newsletters for 8 year olds, working a convention booth, pitching to store owners, customer service, community management, etc. My wide array of skills and experience make me a great designer.

I'm a writer and I love it. I've been a feature writer for both tcgplayer and channelfireball. Through this I've become part of a community much larger than Seattle. I've gained a reputation as a designer of rogue decks, which I delight in creating and playing. I enjoy getting better at Magic and sharing what I've learned with others. My creativity and ability to clearly express my ideas makes me a great designer and coworker.

I've been an MTG player for 8+ years and I love it. I've played in multiple Pro Tours, have a Grand Prix top 8 to my name, and am currently qualified for Pro Tour Paris. I play a lot of Magic, both online and off. I'm active in the local Magic community and local events: from PTQs and Regionals to the Draft Extravaganza and Vintage Rotisserie drafts. I've even been a major player in multiple local BOO drafts, where we create our own Magic sets to be drafted. When I couldn't play in an event I've shown up anyway to do coverage or volunteer as a judge. My knowledge and love of the game make me a great Magic designer and the perfect coworker.

To see the rest of Jonathon's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Shawn Main

Name: Shawn Main

Current Residence: East Haven, CT

Occupation: Patient Educator, sometimes Freelance Theatre Director (well, and other miscellaneous theatre jobs)

What Magic set did you start with?
Revised/Fallen Empires. I played a merfolk deck for a long time followed by a Johnny phase of farcical combo decks (Kormus Bell + Orcish Farmer + Norritt + Krovikan Vampire; every untap effect I could find+one copy of Merieke Ri Berit).

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
I'm a Timmy/Spike - I like formats with inherent variety and cards with tricky decisions. Someday, I should write an article on how to construct and draft a multiplayer Planechase cube because it's clearly the most enjoyable way to play Magic.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card?

What is your favorite Magic card to play?

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
The Shawn Main Story by Shawn Main
On the first day of a directing class, if you ask the students (who are always seasoned theatre veterans) why they want to direct, there's one answer you're guaranteed to hear: "I'm kind of a control freak." I've heard it so often that I have a practiced retort: "That's a dangerous attitude for anyone leading a team to hold, especially in a creative endeavor. There are two phrases you want to learn immediately and use often: 'That's good! Give me more of that!' and 'Try something new'."

The illusion that you must rule your art with an iron fist originates, I believe, from a fear that good ideas are a scarce commodity. The inexperienced director, concerned that innovative material won't be generated naturally through work with actors and designers, latches onto a singular vision for the completed show as if there could be no other and tries to force it by telling everyone what to do.

The reality, though, is that a vision is not a map and ideas aren't precious. It's much better to take that strong, central vision and use it as a guide, suggesting possibilities. If you trust your team and give them space to explore many directions (even experiment with outlandish ones), they'll generate vast amounts of material that play to their individual strengths. Your job then becomes a pleasure, corralling and selecting only the strongest work that contributes to the most cohesive whole.

I suspect leading a Magic design team isn't so different and requires many of these same skills.

My name is Shawn Main. I'm a blue-red-green Timmy/Spike with a passion for multiplayer cubes and high variance games of all kinds. I've been playing Magic and doing theatre since 1994. I've held a variety of jobs (emergency medicine, education, writing, inventory in the country's biggest comic book warehouse), but it's my experience in the theatre and my years as a director in particular that will best serve Wizards of the Coast in creating exciting Magic sets.

To see the rest of Shawn's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Devon Rule

Current Residence: Salem, OR

Occupation: Student at Willamette University

What Magic set did you start with?
The first pack I ever purchased was of Fourth Edition, back in elementary school. I played on-and-off for years but got back into the game seriously in college with Time Spiral.

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
Timmy is definitely my strongest aspect - I'm all about how things feel. I've got a pretty strong Spike streak as well, though. I play in constructed and limited tournaments every few weeks, but mostly I play casual multiplayer with friends. I love EDH, cube drafting, and wacky formats like reject rare draft and eternity-map Planechase.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card?
The cycle of Commands from Lorwyn are my favorite designs of all time, though the M11 Titans are close runners-up. They're both awesome, splashy cycles that really show what each color is about.

What is your favorite Magic card to play?
Primeval Titan. As anyone who plays EDH with me can attest, *gosh* I love land-ramp. Primeval Titan is simply the best land-search card out there, and he does it as a 6/6 trampler.

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
Hi. I'm Devon Rule.

I am a good fit for this internship because in addition to having a deep understanding of Magic's mechanics and aesthetics, I have spent years observing and analyzing what makes Magic *fun*. If I am to be memorable, I would like to be remembered as "that guy who talked about fun a lot."

I have played with the spikiest tournament veterans, kitchen table players with 100-card collections, and hardcore casual gamers with suitcases full of decks. I've introduced dozens of players to the game, and seen what sparks their interest and what scares them away. I created a Magic club at my university and ran it for three years, gathering players of all stripes and experience levels.

Game design has been my career of choice since high school, where my senior project was designing a complete roleplaying system. I've spent years devouring every game and system I could get my hands on, dissecting each mechanic to determine what players enjoy and what they find frustrating. I've been writing a blog in which I review games from a design perspective, discussing not just what games and mechanics are fun, but why.

I will be graduating from Willamette University this fall with a B.A. in Film Studies. I chose the major because it allows me to explore a variety of areas including writing, the arts, technology, and media studies. I'm more interested in how films affect their audience than in pure theory. I like to say that if other students are asking, "What made Shakespeare the greatest writer of all time?" I'm asking, "Why do people like reading the Harry Potter books so dang much?" I am obsessed with figuring out what makes media enjoyable.

I've considered variety of career paths, and think there are many in which I could be happy and successful. But game design is the field where I look at it and think, "This is where I excel. This is where I could be one of the best in the world." I hope the GDS will give me the opportunity to prove it.

To see the rest of Devon's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Jay Treat

Current Residence: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Occupation: Flash developer, basically. Please forgive the boasting you'll see in my introduction. I'm trying to win an internship, y'know? I hear that's like a job.

Actually, as long as I'm asiding, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to those who helped me last round or have supported my game design in general: Thanks.

What Magic set did you start with?
Revised. I remember trading my Demonic Hordes for eight or so Mesa Pegasus. I've heard worse bad beat trades, but it still stings. My theory was, "I don't have to buy any more packs if I trade all my non-White cards for White cards." Then the store opened a 'god box' so I bought a pack and Force of Nature popped out to tell me I would never be free of this game. I'm glad he was right.

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
I'm a turducken of Magic psychographics. I usually claim to be more Johnny, but I suspect an impartial observer would see a Timmy. Limited is my home format. I draft at least once a week, but I love sealed too. Two-Headed Giant is three-headed awesome. (Sorry, I don't know what that means, either).

When I play constructed its Standard or nothing. My Spike tendencies don't compel to me to win tournaments but just to play the best game I can.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card?
It's funny how people ask movie buffs what their favorite movie is or gourmands what their favorite meal is. If the decision were so simple, they wouldn't be a connoisseur in the first place.

The last card I remember fawning over the design for is Explore. Its simple, evocative and useful. Thanks again, Eric!

What is your favorite Magic card to play?
Again, choosing a single favorite is madness. Recently, Lightning Bolt.

KRAKOOOOOM, if you know what I mean (I mean krakoom).

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
If C3PU were played by Niel Patrick Harris and the Princess Bride by Eliza Dushku, I would be their illegitimate love-child. And by "love-child," I mean, "I'm basically the same nerdy white guy as all the other contestants."

I am a Gamer. I can still remember playing with my parent's plastic bulette mini while they were playing the new Advanced D&D.

I am a Magic Player. I started in Revised, lapsed during the dark years and came back in Mirrodin. There's no looking back now.

I am a Game Designer. I've been designing since high school. I've made war games, board games, card games, party games and video games. But mostly, more than anything else, I've designed Magic. Not because I ever thought it would lead to anything, but because I can't not. I've designed well over 5000 cards. Naturally, most are unusable but even those have great value as design lessons. I've also designed alternate draft formats, optimized leagues and new opportunities for Magic and Wizards.

I'm a Rich Media Designer. I am the Creative Technical Architect for the ad serving industry leader, PointRoll, and am responsible for the architecture of the most complex and dynamic ads for our biggest products and clients, including Ford, WalMart, H&R Block. In my free time, I built a free Magic web app,, that is visual, intuitive and fast.

I am a Leader. I organize the largest draft in the Philadelphia area every Thursday night. PennMagic is non-profit and open to all. We meet at Redcap's Corner and our regulars are some of the best and funnest players you could hope to meet. Stop by if you get the chance.

I am a Nice Guy. All this boasting and "I," "I," "I" is not me. I'm here to make the world a little better and I do that by being polite, making people laugh (I know what you're thinking-I'm in serious mode here, give me a break) and making games.

To see the rest of Jay's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Scott Van Essen

Current Residence: Altadena, CA

Occupation: Aerospace Systems Engineer (rocket scientist)

What Magic set did you start with?
I started playing during Tempest block and 4th edition with my roommate's cards. He had a mono-green ramp deck that he called "Lawnmower" and a white/black Serra Angel/Sengir Vampire deck called "Gothic". The first cards I bought were from Urza Block.

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
I'm a Spike/Timmy. I love trying to win as hard as I can, but I don't care nearly as much about the actual winning part. My favorite games are those where I'm way behind and I'm giving it everything I've got trying to claw my way back into contention. That being said, whenever the opportunity for a "Timmy Moment" arises, I'll drop everything else like a bad habit in pursuit of it. I enjoy limited formats (both sealed and draft) because you have to react quickly to what the cards throw at you and standard because it's constantly changing. My favorite multiplayer format is Star Magic. I love that it's a little less political, and I love the tension of your allies trying to kill each other.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card?
That's an impossible question. Every set has a dozen winners of this question to me. But, backed into a corner, I will go with my flavor of the week and choose Obsidian Battle-Axe. It does its job very well. Despite being a little texty, it is easily grokkable. It inspires a deck to be built around it (aggro G/R warriors - which as a bonus happens to be fun and powerful), while not forcing you into that particular deck. It's fair, but when it's working for you, you get that thrill of breaking the rules, and sometimes feel a little dirty. Finally, it really taught me to respect the power of haste as an ability, something that I had previously discounted.

What is your favorite Magic card to play?
This is another answer that changes every few months, but right now it's Sphinx-Bone Wand, especially in limited. It's a great "build around me" card, and when you get it working, you just feel like you're cheating. (I guess I have a little Johnny in me too...don't we all).

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
My name is Scott Van Essen. I was within a hair's breadth of the brass ring in GDS1 (tied for 6th). You might ask what I bring to the table this time that I did not have last time. Upon asking myself that question, I realized that in GDS1, I simply didn't have enough restrictions. As MaRo is so fond of saying, restrictions breed creativity, and there I was, single, carefree, and with loads of free time. Now I'm married, with two kids and two mortgages. With all these restrictions on my time and energy, victory is all but assured.

What do I have to offer besides a host of challenges?

I bring a focused dedication to this process and the eventual internship. Since GDS2 was announced, I have read between 2 and 2.5 million words on Magic design and development, and designed well over 100 practice cards.

I am in sync with the state of design at Wizards. My work on GDS1 speaks for itself, and during my practice design in September, I concurrently designed at least 3 Scars of Mirrodin cards.

I have worked as an engineer at a small (10 people) company for almost 10 years. This means that I have to work well with a small team, wear multiple hats and switch between them effortlessly, jump into unfamiliar tasks and learn them on the job, and that often the future of the company rests on me completing my tasks successfully and on time.

I have a very logical mind, and love solving puzzles, particularly finding a new puzzle type and deducing the rules and tricks that you need to use to solve it.

I have a very creative mind. Among many other things, I have 4 years of improv experience, which has taught me to make creative leaps, think on my feet, embrace mistakes, and to give a presentation for which I have never seen the powerpoint slides.

All of these are critically useful skills for members of a design team, and I have much more to offer.

To see the rest of Scott's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Daniel Williams

Current Residence: Athens, GA

Occupation: I work as a sales agent at an inbound call center.

What Magic set did you start with? Judgment. To be entirely truthful though, it was the end of that summer when I got into Magic, so I only bought a few packs of that set (or my Mom did rather). Onslaught is the earliest set from which I have substantial amounts of cards.

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
I'm on the fence between being a Timmy and Johnny. I like to do ridiculously awesome Timmy things but I like to execute them in clever Johnny ways. Things like enchanting Grim Poppet with Sinking Feeling and targeting Wee Dragonauts with Psychotic Fury are right up my alley. As for formats, I really like playing Standard at FNM. It's a fun, social environment that provides a good mix of casual and competitive gameplay. I also enjoy playing freeform casual games, as they let me build decks out of all of my cards. I would also like to play more EDH and Draft, but I unfortunately haven't had the time to do so yet.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card? Cream of the Crop. It's the perfect Timmy/Johnny card because it lets you stack your deck by playing fat creatures. I tried for months to make a deck that realized the card's full potential (i.e., an endless wave of fatties). I finally succeeded with a casual, multiplayer deck where it teamed up with Lurking Predators. For the record, playing Primalcrux for free on someone else's turn and then stacking your deck is pretty awesome.

What is your favorite Magic card to play?
Chameleon Colossus. It's everything a green creature should be: fat, cheap, and hard to kill. Changeling and its pump ability provide a healthy dose of shapeshifter flavor while enabling fun and interesting gameplay. The pump ability keeps him safe from burn, creates tough combat steps for your opponents, allows you to live the dream of controlling a stupidly large creature, and can lead to absolute blow-outs against the right opponents. Changeling makes the Colossus a great fit for any tribal deck with green in it, be it a serious tournament deck or a fun creation for casual. On that note, most of my love for this card comes from playing it in my mono-green elf/warrior deck back when the Lorwyn block was standard legal.

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
My name is Daniel Williams and designing cards for Magic is my dream job. I've been playing the game since Judgment and have been creating custom cards for nearly that long. Often as I roamed the cotton fields of South Georgia (USA) as part of my summer job, I would daydream about creating my own set. Since then, I have strove to create a block that fulfilled the highest mechanical and creative standards. My latest effort towards this goal is a block which takes place on the plane of Deadsands, where rain is scare and death is everywhere. The Deadsands block is Magic meets the Wild West. On Deadsands, large deposits of magically infused crystals have been discovered, setting off massive migrations and a plane-wide 'gold rush'. The crystals have made violent and dangerous magic more available than ever, leading to an atmosphere where deadly spellslinging battles can break out at any time. I would love to go into much more detail about this project, but, even more than that, I want to give you a better idea of who I am as a person. I grew up in a house on a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere with the closest town being Americus, Georgia. I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from the University of Georgia. Over the course of my academic career, I participated in 4-H, competitive swimming, fencing, and Yoshukai karate. I am charismatic, optimistic, creative, imaginative, and get along well with almost everyone. My favorite things about designing custom cards are creating new mechanics, finding untapped design space, combining existing mechanics and components to create things that are new and different, and designing resonant top-down cards that capture the essence of what inspired me. I am a great fit for this internship because I have the vision to imagine entire worlds, the creativity to generate new ideas, and the will to make these ideas and these worlds realities.

To see the rest of Daniel's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Jonathan Woodward

Current Residence: Greensboro, North Carolina

Occupation: Economics Ph.D. Student

What Magic set did you start with?
My first cards were a starter deck of Revised. The rares were Force of Nature (huge!), Gaea's Liege (could be huge!), and a Sedge Troll I couldn't really use because I only opened three Swamps.

How would you describe yourself as a Magic player? What psychographic(s) do you most strongly identify with and what kind of formats do you like to play?
The main psychographic I follow when deck-building is Johnny; I prefer to pick two or three themes that work together, and then build the entire deck around that. However, I play as more of a Spike. I'd really like to find the optimal play in a given situation, which can be tricky, because most of the Magic I play is casual. It is very hard to find the best possible plays in a free-for-all, Planechase, or Archenemy game! Competitively, I prefer drafting, and I've travelled to Limited Grand Prix throughout the United States, as well as to PT Kuala Lumpur. My favorite format is Two-Headed Giant draft, which allows me to combine the social interaction of multiplayer with the competitive challenge of building and playing a Limited deck.

What is your favorite design of a Magic card?
Experiment Kraj is possibly my favorite design, as his two abilities both fit well into his local context (the Graft mechanic of the Simic Guild), but also work together to produce almost limitless interesting possibilities in Magic as a whole. Unlike Baron Sengir and similar large creatures, for whom tapping means not getting to attack, Experiment Kraj can easily borrow an untap ability from Gilder Bairn or Horseshoe Crab. Using Experiment Kraj in multiplayer, the hard part for me is building a deck that somehow resists the temptation to go infinite and kill the whole table.

What is your favorite Magic card to play?
Questing Phelddagrif is one of my favorite cards to play. The purple hippo really does it all. It can make friends (Timmy), pay a dangerous cost to beat face in the air (Spike), or combo with other cards like Kavu Predator (Johnny). My opponents had better not be relying on Red or Black spells as their removal!

Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
My name is Jonathan Woodward, and I have a lifelong interest in designing and improving games. In 8th grade, I invented stats for new races in my favorite role-playing game for my friends to play. I continued through high school, where I wrote fantasy games for our TI-85 Calculators. In college, I created areas and wrote code for GizmoMUD, an online game. Since I learned to play Magic in 1994, I have designed over 80 cards, often based on the fantasy worlds of my favorite authors, and could create far more.

I have a B.S. degree in Mathematics, and a Master's in Applied Economics. Within a year, I will have completed a Ph.D. in Economics at UNC-Greensboro. Magic is a game with deep mathematical underpinnings, and my strong analytic skills have helped me anticipate possible consequences as rules have changed and cards have been added.

In my 16 years as a Magic player, I have participated in hundreds of drafts, and I play multiplayer every week. I played on the Pro Tour in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, and at one point I was ranked second in the world at Two-Headed Giant (Limited). However, perhaps the most rewarding aspect of Magic for me has been the over two dozen tournaments I ran while working at a hobby shop. At those tournaments, averaging 15-20 participants, I had the opportunity to interact with a variety of players, including many just learning to understand the game. Fostering their development as players formed an inherently rewarding process of contributing to the survival of the game itself.

I believe these experiences combine to provide an excellent preparation for the design of Magic cards. I greatly enjoy the fantasy traditions behind Magic, and I am comfortable with the probabilities and numerical interactions that underlie the game. My extended duration as a Magic player has given me familiarity with a great many cards and formats. Finally, my experiences in creating games have supplied a ready intuition for the factors that make a game interesting and fun.

To see the rest of Jonathan's essays, multiple-choice score, and design tests, click here.

Tune in Next Week

At the end of each finalist's section there is a link to all three of that finalist's tests. I urge you to check out the design tests as a week from now our judges will chime in with their opinions on the eight world designs so far. Be aware that nothing is written in stone (well, other than the base world design) meaning that any card or mechanic can change, and many will.

Do you have an opinion on which designs or designers you do or don't like? Chime in on the thread or over on the Wiki. And remember, all the finalists are looking for designs and/or designers so go to their Wiki pages to see what they want.

See you next week when the "show" begins in earnest, you get to hear from the judges for the first time, and the first Design Challenge is announced to the world. Until then, discuss amongst yourselves.

See you next Wednesay!

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