Great Designer Search 3 Trials Begin

Posted in Feature on January 16, 2018

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.

Editor's note: If you submitted an entry for the Great Designer Search 3 and did not receive an email on January 16, 2018, pointing you toward the essay questions, you can follow this link to resubmit your application and be directed straight to those questions. The deadline to submit answers to the essay questions is 11:59 p.m. PT on January 21, 2018.


Welcome, everyone. Today marks the start of the trials for the Great Designer Search 3 (aka GDS3)! The trials are a series of three tests that will help us narrow down the field of applicants to eight finalists. Today's article is going to walk you through what the trials are going to be and give you a rough timeline.

On Monday, December 4, we announced that we were doing a third Great Designer Search. (If you're interested in seeing the other iterations of the Great Designer Search, they are archived here and here.) We asked people who met the criteria (you can find the terms and conditions here) and were interested in participating to sign up. We had over 7,000 people sign up.

For those interested in comparison, GDS1 had 1,061 people turn in the first trial, while GDS2 had 1,121 people.

Here's how the trials are going to work.

Trial 1 – The Essay Trial

This trial involves ten essay questions. Every applicant will be required to answer each question in 250 to 350 words, meaning that, on average, this trial will require 3,000 words. These essay questions are thought-provoking and will help demonstrate how the applicants think about Magic and its design. The deadline for the first trial will be 11:59 p.m. PT (Pacific Time—please note that all GDS3 times will be PT) on Sunday, January 21.

Trial 2 – The Multiple-Choice Trial

Everyone who qualifies will advance to the second trial. This is a multiple-choice trial that will test your knowledge of various aspects of Magic design. I am not at liberty to say how long the test is, but it has significantly more questions than the GDS1 and GDS2 multiple-choice trials (35 and 50 questions, respectively). The multiple-choice test will be available for a 24-hour window (6:00 a.m. PT Friday, January 26, through 6:00 a.m. PT Saturday, January 27). There will be an opportunity later for anyone who wishes to take the test along with the answers explained, but it will not be on that day. (See below for more details.)

Trial 3 – The Design Trial

Everyone who qualifies will advance to the third trial. This is a design test where participants will be asked to design cards based on criteria provided in the test. I should note that this test will be closer to the design test from GDS1 than GDS2. GDS2 had a world-building component along with an audience-input wiki that will not be part of GDS3. The third trial will be due by 11:59 p.m. PT on Sunday, February 4. As with the first trial, participants will have over five days to complete the test, including an entire weekend.

The Show

We will be using the month of February and early March to select our top eight finalists. The Great Designer Search 3 "show" will begin on Friday, March 9. On it, we will introduce the eight finalists along with the judges (it will be me along with two other regular judges and a number of rotating judges). The first show will also introduce the first design challenge. The finalists will have 72 hours to work on it, and then two weeks later, on Friday, March 23, we will judge the first design challenge, eliminating one of the finalists. This will continue every other week for four more challenges. The top three remaining finalists will then be flown out to Wizards of the Coast for a final in-person challenge. We will then select the winner of the Great Designer Search 3. That person will be offered a position as a paid Magic design intern for six months.

I'll be using my Making Magic column to review all the trials. Here's when you can expect them:

  • February 5 – I will be discussing trial 1, walking through each of the ten essay questions, giving my thoughts, and explaining what we were looking for in the answers.
  • February 12 and 19 – I will be discussing trial 2. Everyone will have the opportunity to take the multiple-choice test and get a score. I will then spend two weeks walking through all the questions explaining each answer.
  • March 5 – I will be discussing trial 3. I will walk through the design test, talk about its many challenges, explain how I would tackle it, and then discuss what we were looking for.

For all those about to start the trials, I wish you the best of luck. For everyone else, I hope you enjoy getting to spectate. Having done this twice before, I know you all are in for a treat. The Great Designer Search is a great insight into our design process.

See you all March 9!

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