The Great Designer Search Episode #4 "Silver & Gold", Part II

Posted in Feature on November 17, 2006

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.

If you haven't read Part I of this week's episode, I strongly urge you to as it reveals who was eliminated from last week and tells you this week's Design Challenge.

This means we can hop right in to the judge's comments. We will be listing each player's submission again for reference but everything listed was in Part I. If you read Part I, you can just skip ahead to the colored text and read the judge's comments. Then at the end we are changing how we are doing things and eliminating candidates the same day as the judges' comments. So, two applicants will be eliminated today.

As a quick reminder, today's Design Challenge required the candidates to design five rare, multicolor, Un-cards (that is, silver bordered cards a la Unglued or Unhinged). The judges today are Aaron Forsythe (in red), Devin Low (in blue), Gleemax (in lovely plum) and myself (in green).

Devin: Hello everyone. This is a fun week! There are a lot of great designs. And a lot of cute presentations. This week had the most creativity displayed of any week so far, and a great chance for the applicants to let their personalities shine through.

In terms of success, the mistake I noticed most consistently was a card that is funny to read, but would play horribly. It's crucial that Unglued and Unhinged are actually playable sets, filled with playable cards, and that you can shuffle a half dozen Unhinged or Unglued cards into a random Magic deck and it will actually play well. Many of the card misses this week suffered this problem.

This week, I'm listing my scores of all the applicants' submissions so far, leading into this week's rating. Recalling how I scored applicants in previous rounds helps remind me how they are doing so far. In each week, we advance applicants based on a combination of how well they do this week and how well they have done overall. It's worth noting that we advance people based on conversations, not numbers, and it's far from certain that we would cut someone with the lowest score this week or the lowest score so far overall. If I make any transcription errors of previous weeks' ratings, I assure you that they will not significantly affect who advances.


Demonic Tutored

Creature - Human Wizard
, 1/2: Search your library for a card, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.
, 1/2: Draw a card.

Picture: A wizard (from Apprentice Wizard) stands over a dead demon (from Demonic Tutor) with a stiletto in its chest. The wizard holds the spell book that the demon held in Demonic Tutor. They are in a dark library, and out a window can be seen a volcano erupting. The Phyrexian Librarian floats by in the background, oblivious to the scene.
Flavor Text: "I guess I graduated."

Experimental Brain Surgery

Remove your library from the game. Replace it with another deck you own.

Art: Urza is a Deranged Hermit, enjoying his squirrels with a loopy expression on his face. Momir Vig looks on proudly, like a father figure. Squirrels are everywhere throughout the card: in the rules text box, grabbing the 'y' in 'Surgery', sniffing the artist credit. One squirrel appears to be running off of the card, carrying a brain with it.
Flavor text: "After Urza's operation was complete, he was a much happier planeswalker. Really."

The First Dragon

Legendary Creature - Eldest Dragon
At the beginning of each upkeep, reveal a dragon creature card from outside the game. The First Dragon gains all of the abilities of the revealed card.

Picture: A huge dragon is stretching, as if waking from a long nap. The dragon has distinguishing features from many other Magic dragons: some metallic scales (like Chromium), the Eternal Dragon's glow, the sparkle of the Nalathni Dragon's wings, etc. The tail of the dragon hangs down the left edge of the card, outside the frame of the picture.
Flavor Text: "I am so out of here." - Norin the Wary

Line Item Veto

Remove one sentence from the rules text of target card.

Picture: Drawn in the style of editorial cartoons, a president is sitting at a desk crossing out words on a document. The only words that are still visible are "Make War" with two words crossed out between them.
Rules Text Box: This looks like a rectangular ripped off piece of yellowed newspaper. Use a typewriter font for the rules text. After the rules text (but not italicized) are the words "This effect lasts until end of turn." with a thin black line over them (overstrike).
Flavor text: "This flavor text intentionally left blank."

Spike Feeder

Creature - Spike
Spike Feeder comes into play with 2 +1/+1 counters on it.
, remove a +1/+1 counter from Spike Feeder: put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.
Remove a +1/+1 counter from Spike Feeder: target players loses X life and you gain X life where X is the number of Pro-tour points that player has.

Picture: Use the original Spike Feeder art as a model, but replace the apple with Kai Budde and Jon Finkel hanging from the tree branch, looking rather scared. Make the Spike more menacing and larger, slightly pushing out of the card frame.
Flavor Text: "Ach! Kai, run! It's the Spike Feeder!"

I used this opportunity to make cards that answer interesting magic questions in fun ways. How do you let a creature tap for abilities twice? Make each activation only cost half of a tap! I can see this idea of 1/2 tapping being a mechanic throughout the set. How can you reduce the sting of a bad match-up? Allow players to change decks mid-game! How can you make a card that is better against more competitive players? Use their pro-tour experience against them! What would the ultimate dragon look like? And, most importantly, what is the craziest thing that can happen by simply removing one line of text from a card?

Devin: For me, Globus has scored 8,1,7 leading up to this week. This week, I liked Experimental Brain Surgery a lot - it's cool, a clean simple concept, short in text, never-before-seen, and will play well. Great design. Demonic Turnaround is a cool concept with half-tapping, though the execution is not quite right. The combination of the two abilities is a little too obvious, in that you'd never use the black ability twice in a turn - you'd only ever tutor then draw, or double draw. I also don't like 0/1 creatures except in very justifying circumstances. They don't feel enough like creatures. Turnaround is still overall a hit for me. The First Dragon is way too similar to TSP's Scion of the Ur-Dragon, and this won't play that well - how many times can you activate this ability before you kill them? With just "Dragon Tyrant, kill you" on the first attack, or even "Any 2 dragons" there's no time to build up a really cool monster. A Goblin that does this would be a much better design. Line Item Veto is a good idea. It's a fairly obvious place to go in Un-sets, and when we've tried it before it has not worked out, but Globus could not have known that. Spike Feeder is a bad idea, in that when it does what it's supposed to do, it just says " An opponent loses 20+ life and you instantly win the game." Overall Globus earns a 5 this week, taking him to 8,1,7,5 = 21 (5 this week).

Aaron: Globus had one card that actively made me laugh out loud: Experimental Brain Surgery. Not only did it read well, it would probably play well. Demonic Tutored introduces a nifty new concept, and Line Item Veto is a nice, clean Un-style card that I'm sure many players would hope we'd make someday. The First Dragon doesn't do it for me-if nothing else, it feels like Scion of the Ur-Dragon II-and Spike Feeder probably never does anything. I don't think Un-sets are aimed at people with lots of Pro Tour points. A "LOL" is worth a lot in my book, though, putting Mark in my top third this week.

Gleemax: These cards look cool and neat. Then you play them and they suck.

Mark: Mark's submission was a mixed bag for me. I felt like he had some interesting ideas but that his execution was far from ideal. The best example is Demonic Tutored. Mark came up with the idea of half tap as a cost. The concept is very cool but I feel how he used it fell flat. For all intents and purposes, the card just says ",: Demonic Tutor". The half tap doesn't really mean anything. Now if he had included a third ability with a half tap that was synergistic with the first two, then the half tap becomes much more interesting. You would get to mix and match two abilities each turn. Mark's high point was Experimental Brain Surgery and low point was Spike Feeder (which by the way breaks one of the only rules Un -sets can't break - cards with the same name are allowed in tournaments and Spike Feeder, the original, is one of the Time Spiral timeshifted cards).


Angel of Death (rare)

Legendary Creature - Angel Demon
Whenever an opponent is caught looking at Angel of Death, that player loses 5 life and you gain 5 life.

/"No peeking."/
First off, this has the most gratuitous babe art that would be possible to print. The effect of the entire card is to make something extremely pleasing that draws the eye, because of're not allowed to look at it (unless it's yours)! The figure will be more beautiful angel than demon, but with dark contrasts of white/black. Art will be full-card size, with text overlay. The frame will be designed white, black, sleek and sexy, not the standard gold border. Obsidian and diamond would look nice. I think RK Post would do this one well. (See attached graphic)

Proxy (rare)

When you play Proxy for the first time, write the name of another Magic card on it. Proxy permanently becomes a copy of the named card. (This effect doesn't end at end of game)

/"Psst. Hey, Kid. You wanna Mox?"/
Picture a card without the art, the name dropped down right above the type. Then put a second one, blank, on top of it. The idea is you write the chosen card info on the top half. Because it is becoming any other card (and there is little room), there is no formal art, so I'm moving the "art" to the frame. This card is a treasure, to be coveted, as it is "the perfect" card for anyone. The frame can remain mainly gold, but should be very fancy, such as shiny metal and brightly colored jewels. (See attached graphic)

Call of the Pro (rare)

Choose a random Pro Tour card you own from outside the game and put that card into play. That card is a red and green champion creature token with power and toughness equal to its PT Top 8s.

/"In response, I Slay Darwin Kastle."/
Which pros are going to show up this time? Who knows? Several ideas for art: bunch of known players crashing through the forest, ala Call of the Herd; goblin with Julien Nuijten's head; someone holding many trophies, who is also much bigger than everyone else. Include the Pro Tour logo on the card. It'd be cool to have this packaged as a double-card, with a Jeroen Remie as a value-added buddy to get you started (a special one would appear in any pack that Call of the Pro is in). Needs better flavor text, but I like the general idea.

Goodnight Badmoon (rare)

At the end of your turn, reveal the top card of your library, say "Goodnight..." and that card's name, then remove it from the game face down.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if your opponents can't name all cards removed from the game with Goodnight Badmoon, put those cards in your hand.

Think creepy and cute. Art is simplistic, like a children's book, with solid colors. It shows the corner of a room, shadowed, with a fireplace and a window, through which the Badmoon lurks. An evil-looking old-lady bunny sitting in a chair holds a finger to her lips. Focus is on the room rather than any of these things. The card's boxes and frames are all hazy, dreamlike, fuzzing into each other. The subtly implied "evil" is calmly waiting for you to fall asleep and forget about it.

Quantum Leap (rare)

Each player removes the top X cards of his or her library from the game. Then, starting with you, players take turns choosing any one of the removed cards and playing it without paying its mana cost. Continue this until all removed cards that can be played, have been. (You can't play spells without legal targets)

/"Oh, boy..."/
The idea is a spell that accelerates time (jumps ahead turns)...but with unexpected results. The different parts of the card are being sucked in different directions, emulating how everything's going every which-way, by means of being played by any player. The art itself: A goblin scientist scratches his head while looking at a metal device in his hand. It appears his super-time-accelerator has gone somewhat awry. Instead of in his laboratory, he's now in peaceful woodland. The human priest and zombie warrior that have suddenly appeared next to him seem similarly puzzled. I'd like to see Matt Cavotta's take.

Even though the word wasn't mentioned in the challenge description, "fun" was the primary motive here. I tried to maintain an acceptable level of Unwoundness. For the two cards with abnormal layouts, I attached a graphic/sketch. No, my artwork is not for sale.

Angel of Death - Jab at both gratuitous babe art and R&D's push for "sexy." Attempted to take this aspect to the extreme. A card that must be had (at least just so you can finally look at it).

Proxy - What's cooler than opening whatever card you want the most? Definitely 5-color, should be a feat to "imprint."

Call of the Pro - Progression from original idea: token creature with P/T = weight of the object used as the token. Two broken fingers later, we have this.

Goodnight Badmoon - Memory and attention subgame. Allows actual misdirection.

Quantum Leap - The rules run away screaming from this. I think it's grokkable enough.

Devin: Hopkins enters this week with 8,4,7, some great scores. This week, I thought Goodnight Badmoon was a good design with a nice Un-feel and pretty good gameplay. Good job. Quantum Leap was good too - I criticized the similar Portal of the Archdruids last week, because that was trying to be in a real Magic set, but the effect is fine for Un-sets, and I don't think this one was too similar to the previous Portal design. Turning Pro Player cards into tokens is a cool idea too, though this one needs better execution to prevent you claiming that you only own Alan Comer, and ensure that you get a variety of different pros. Angel of Death is a worse-designed version of already printed in Unhinged Stone-Cold Basilisk, and thus a miss. Proxy was a miss for me too. Good work this week. 6 out of 10. Scores so far: 8,4,7,6 = 25 (6 this week).

Aaron: Two contestants, two LOLs-this time from Goodnight Badmoon. The name and art draw from a cute source, but I really like the subgame of remembering an ever-growing list. We've all played that game around the campfire. (Well, I haven't, but I imagine the more wholesome among you have.) Call of the Pro explores some really novel territory that could be fun, but Angel of Death feels like an existing Unhinged card, and Proxy lends itself far too easily to cheating. ("Honestly, I played it for seven against the last guy and chose Ancestral Recall. No, I don't remember which guy-it was last week sometime at that other store.") Graeme's comment on Quantum Leap really puzzles me: "The rules run screaming from this." Really? My only knock on this card is that it could probably go in a regular Magic set. Solid stuff, placing him in my middle third.

Gleemax: Very mixed bag of cards for me. Let's hope the inspired ones keep the bombs from sending you home.

Mark: Graeme again turns in very solid work. Like Mark, although to a lesser extent, the concepts tend to be stronger than the play value. The two exceptions are Quantum Leap and Goodnight Badmoon, the latter of which I think is good enough that it's going on my short list for cards to consider for Un-Set #3 (my only question is whether black is the right color). I should note that we've messed around with memory for mechanics before but I feel Goodnight Badmoon does it in a different manner with a different payoff. Angel of Death has some problems that we learned about in Unhinged when we made a card you couldn't look at. (To make it clearer whether you were looking at it, we punished you for reading it which seemed easier to gauge.) Minus points for that by the way. I appreciate what Call of the Pro was trying to do but the execution was poor (choose randomly from my collection - "oops I only own the exact card I need"). Proxy is a land mine that I'm not going to touch.


Division of Labor

(permanents can't change sides while in play)
- Whenever a creature you control on the left deals damage to a player, draw a card.
Whenever a creature you control on the right deals damage to a player, it deals that much damage to target creature. -
"Would all Class C3 Wizards please report to room 713 for reassignment?"

Illustration of two lines of creatures- this is where a planeswalker's grunts line up for assignments. Signs above each line saying for ex: "Wizards; Shamans; Clerics... (trailing off into fine print)" and "Warriors; Barbarians; Soldiers; Knights..." Lines trail off into the distance; be sure to insert some iconic characters such as Ertai and Khamal. There are two textboxes, one above the other- a blue one shaped like an arrow pointing left (first two lines of text) and a red one like an arrow pointing right.
Artist name should be laid out like a fraction. (first name over last name)

Getting a Head

Remove from the game any portion of your library, permanents, and hand.
Another player joins the game as your teammate with those resources.
You are now a two-headed giant.
"Give him a piece of your mind."

Illustration of a Magic player (not necessarily human) in the act of playing, with a new head (preferably a different species) being sewn on. The hand doing the graft should be coming from "outside" the card art, overlapping the card border. The card itself should also be many pieces stitched together- most should be gold, green, or black, but there will be an off-color piece, a piece of Magic card back, a couple pieces of skin, etc. The two black mana symbols should be stiched together. The artist should be two artist names hyphenated. (eg: Ron-Rebbeca Guay-Spencer)

Out with the Old

Destroy all permanents with the old Magic card face.
Remove all cards with the old Magic card face in all graveyards from the game.
"OMG, MaRo is destroying Magic... again!"

Illustration of MaRo. (the real one or the Creature - Elemental, depending on whether using the real MaRo is deemed appropriate) He is using His Great Powers to destroy all manner of old magic icons that have surrounded him, such as Moxes, the old Counterspell art, Juzam Djinn, Leviathan, the original Serra and Sengir, etc. Card face (the new card face, of course) should be slightly exagerrated and extra pristine, to subtley draw attention to it.

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

Creature - Witch Witch
You may announce sorceries, instants and abilities using rhyming poetry - You may then play a copy.
Lose 2 life when this occurs;
Targets change if you prefer.

Two matching witches with matching bubbling cauldrons. Art layout should be reminiscent of classic shapeshifter cards, where one side is almost a mirror of the other. Each cauldron contains "classic" spell ingredients (eyes, frogs, mana symbols, magic cards, etc.) and should be visibly producing the same spell. (A "fireball" or some other choice of magical effect) Artist name should contain a rhyme, of course.

Executive Decision

Executive Decision comes into play with X paper clips.
Remove a paper clip from Executive Decision: Reveal two cards in your hand with the same card type. Paper clip them together. Treat them as a single card, with combined cost, power, toughness, types, and abilities. (they remain clipped unless they enter your library)

Entire card resembles a wooden desktop. Text box is a parchment blotter pad- the card text written on it in clean handwritten font. Reminder text is on a yellow sticky note. Frame embellishments (as room allows) include a paper clip holder made out of a skull, a (live) mouse, and a desktop nameplate with "Urza / Chief Spellcasting Officer". Illustration should show a spellcaster with a slightly frustrated and confused look, reading from a scroll that's been clearly rubber-stamped, paper clipped and otherwise heavily annotated, summoning firebreathing merfolk elves.

Getting a Head: A great sacrifice (black) to create new life (green).

Division of Labor: I had lots of ideas based on card placement and ideas revolving around multiple text boxes- so I came up with this intersection.

Executive Decision: Merging spells (blue) or building bigger creatures (green) provides lots of new interactions. Buyback and synergystic creature abilities are obvious choices, but I have a feeling there's a lot of possibilities there.

Double, Double: Unique in copying abilities, and conserving mana by paying life to copy. Might be slightly overpowered, but creatures are fragile.

Out with the Old: This could simply say "permanents" if color bleed is overlooked. Also demonstrates a new twist on mass removal that also hits the graveyard. Things that didn't see print: Elegance, Act of Dog, Obsessive Compulsive, triggered abilities in the library, writing errata on your own cards, Enchant spell, turning your library face up.

Devin: Alexis so far has scored 8,7,6 from me, among our very best applicants so far. This week: Wow. Getting a Head is a cool, great idea expressed simply, executed well, and is fun both to read and to play. Same with Double Double. Same with Executive Decision. Same with Out with the Old. Same with Division of Labor. Great designs all the way down the list. This was by far the best submission this week, and probably the best submission of the competition so far. 10 out of 10. Scores so far: 8,7,6,10 = 31 (10 this week). Awesome work, and keep it up.

Aaron: Another LOL (they're on a roll, folks), this time in the form of Executive Decision. Clipping cards together-now that's something that (a) sounds quite fun, and (b) would never, ever work in the real game. Fabulous. Three other cards were solid, ranging from inventive (Getting a Head) to predictable (Out with the Old). Top third for Alexis this week-she's done well each time I've judged.

Gleemax: Bravo! Best of the challenge. Keep doing work of this quality and you just might win this thing.

Mark: Alexis, excellent submission. For starters, Executive Decision is on the list for the third Un-set. It's such a brilliant idea and execution (paper clips for the counters is so awesome) that I was truly stunned by the design. I also really liked Division of Labor and Getting a Head. Out with the Old was cute but we already did this style of joke with Rare-B-Gone in Unhinged. My biggest issue was with Double, Double Toil and Trouble. While I like the idea, you needed to be clearer with the task. Poetry is very undefined. Rhyming poetry is much cleaner (although we did once make people rhyme in Unglued with I'm Rubber, You're Glue). While you managed to write realistic text, Un-templating would have allowed you to get clearer rhymes. But that's just me picking on details. Overall, excellent job.


Thanks for letting me out to play! Chris will probably be back on his medication by next week.
-chris's evil twin

Rare Drafter

Creature - Human Rogue
Protection from non-rares
Rare Drafter comes into play with a first-pick counter on it.
, remove a first-pick counter from Rare Drafter: Reveal cards from target library until a rare is revealed. If it is a land put it into play under your control. Otherwise, play it without paying its casting cost. That library's controller then shuffles his library.

The card shows a young thief sitting at a table, greedily hording figurines of dragons, and other iconic rare types. They should look as shiny and valuable as possible. One of his hands grabs for his own enlarged gold expansion symbol. If it can be made to look good, all of the card's text should be in some bright golden font. Possibly, replace the normal mana symbols with gems of the appropriate color.


When you cast Spork, Spork becomes a copy of target spell except that colored mana in its mana cost may be paid for with or instead. This effect lasts FOREVER. (This effect doesn't end upon resolution, end of turn, at the end of the game, or ever.)

The artwork is a Ravinica insignia style watermark of a spork upside down on a white background. There should be blanks to fill in for mana cost, name, power/toughness, and type, so that the card looks like a Magic card when held upside down. The idea is the player should be able to record the information of the spell he copies and have it look like that card when held upside down.
Flavor text: "The 'S.P.' stands for 'Super Permanent!'" - Zalandrin, Izzet Guildmage

Counter Insurgency

Until end of turn all counters on permanents you control are 1/1 creatures under your control. (They're still counters.)

The picture shows an army of dice, coins, and scraps of paper with arms and legs. The army is carrying primitive weapons and charging some off-picture enemy. The text box has some small burnt pieces of paper and maybe a melted penny in it.
Flavor text: "Bah, cautious bean counters! I say just throw everything at them and see what explodes!" - Jaya Ballard, Task Mage.


Creature - Elf Merchant Countershaper
, : If target counter or token is a coin replace that coin with two coins of combined equal or lesser value. Those coins are counters or tokens of the same type.

The picture shows an elf in a suit sitting in a bank being given a coin with +1/+1 written in large text on it on it and giving back two smaller coins that also have +1/+1 written on them. Behind him are shelves with various types of counters and tokens used throughout Magic history:
miniature statues of elephants and goblins, a plaque that says FATE on it, maybe some spores...
Flavor text: "The concept of money was foreign to the elves. They never understood why you couldn't always give more than you receive."

Boon-doggle (Rare)

Gain 3 life or prevent 3 damage from being dealt to a single target!
Add 3 black mana to your mana pool.
Boon-doggle deals three damage to one target.
Target creature gains +3/+3 until end of turn.
Oh, and by the way, draw 3 cards of force opponent to draw three cards.

The text is color-coded, matching color of boon with ability. Maybe the first line is bold and the fifth line is kind of faded and smaller (reversing the value of the effects). The artwork is some jumble of the Alpha pictures of the boons. Maybe a huge rat attacks the spirit on Dark Ritual while the Ancestral Recall guy applies some salve to a sparking burn mark. "Interrupt" and "Mana Source" are crossed out on the type line.
Use the old card frame and imitate the alpha production values as much as possible.

Thanks to Alex Werner for listening to all my crazy ideas, leaving me with only the certifiably insane. A couple of cards ended up dealing with counters, which I think is an area ripe for un-set abuse. Lots of weird interactions come up with Counter Insurgency (If a creature gets killed all the tokens on it die too), but that's why it's not in a normal set. I decided early on that I wanted to make a card that copied another card forever, and I eventually settled on Spork. Obviously, this lets a player get access to off-color abilities in UR, but if you're going to break Magic you might as well go all the way. Boon-doggle is all five Alpha boons in one card. I used the original wordings to make the card as nostalgic as possible. Rare Drafter went though a lot of abilities, but I eventually decided getting one random rare once was about right. You don't want him searching through libraries every turn.

Devin: Luhrs comes in with 6,6,4 from me. This week, I really liked Counter Insurgency a lot. Cool idea, simple text, would play well - you know the key elements by now, and I'll stop saying it as much. Changemonger was a good joke that would also play well, and is a hit. I also liked Spork, in that you'd have to find some game to "warm it up" into the card you wanted to be blue-red, then play it in blue-red decks. This is a much better execution of the Proxy idea submitted by another applicant. I liked Rare Drafter at first, but then it was pointed out to me that you'd usually use it on yourself with only a single Akroma in your deck or what-have-you, which makes it play less randomly worse than it looks. It's still decent. (But don't rare drafters get THREE first picks?) Boondoggle is a funny assortment of abilities and a neat idea, but it could be done in normal Magic, and is thus a miss. Overall 6 out of 10. Total scores: 6,6,4,6 = 22. Good solid line drives, but we need to see some home runs for you to make top 3.

Aaron: Chris's cards didn't resonate with me. Many of them felt too "mechanical" and not actually entertaining. Boon-doggle could have been printed in Time Spiral. Rare Drafter probably plays a lot like Oath of Druids or Gamekeeper, and we've done the "rare" joke already. Spork has many of the same issues as Hopkins's Proxy. Changemonger is okay, but I feel like it is a normal card that tries to be Un- just via trappings. Counter Insurgency was the only one that really did it for me, putting Chris in my bottom third. Luckily, the other judges liked his stuff more than I did.

Gleemax: Channel whatever part of you made Changemonger. Because the other part of you that did the last two challenges, he's going to get you eliminated.

Mark: Chris, when last we talked I said that you were in trouble unless you nailed this assignment. Luckily for you, you did. (I'd rank you at number two behind Alexis.) Both Change Monger and Counter Insurgency were quite cool and executed well (and even have a little counter theme). Spork does what Graeme's Proxy tried to do but better. Rare Drafter is dripping with flavor, but I am a little saddened that the mechanic makes you want to play a deck not full of rares. (The mechanic makes you want to play a few key rares that you can guarantee getting.) Boon-doggle was the big miss for me as while the overall feel is a little goofy, it doesn't really do something that we couldn't do in a tournament-legal set. For example, Boon-Doggle could have been a wacky rare in a nostalgia set like Time Spiral. Also, as you will see soon, it wasn't as original as you had hoped.


I purposefully begin each of my cards with the layout description so when the reader gets to the card text, everything clicks and makes sense.

I have attached crude, incomplete mockups of my cards. These mockups are for demonstration purposes only; I feel cards are far more exciting in image form than in text form. Due to my technical and time limitations, I have placeholder art, imperfect templating, and missing joke elements in the mockups. The final Spike card I envision should be my two mockups meeting somewhere in the middle.

Thanks for letting me be a part of this contest.


Muscle Memory

As an additional cost to play Muscle Memory, turn any number of cards in play you control face down.
For each face down card you control, target opponent guesses its name then turns it face up.
For each card guessed wrong, put a 2/2 green Ape creature token into play under your control.
"The apes weren't happy with the cards evolution dealt them."

Layout: Ravenous apes run amok. A gamer flees for his life. The apes are pounding (and possibly feasting) on human brains that used to belong inside gamers' skulls. A dead gamer lies near his dunce cap. An overly smart-looking professor calmly observes. The rules text box is outlined like a brain. A small pile of feces lies in the frame bottom.

Spike, Tourney Winner

Legendary Creature - Human Gamer
Broken (This card is broken. It has proven itself unbalanced in tournament play and is currently banned or restricted.)
: Search up your sleeve for a Broken card, reveal it, then put it in your hand.
"Magic was sooo much better with ante..."

Layout: The subject has spikey hair, triangular lens sunglasses, a tiny bit of bling-bling, and headphones to his MP3 player. His shirt reads, "my rating > yours". He has Lotus Petal, Necropotence, Ancient Den, and Hermit Druid amongst his pockets and hands. He has his passport visible and a laminated Pro Tour Competitor badge drapped around his neck.The card frame and llustration bleed like a Pro Player Card. There is a paperclipped news headline to the card that reads, "DCI Alert: Spike has been emergency Restricted in All Formats."

Izzet My Turn?!

During your draw step, if I am in your hand, you must reveal me saying, "Izzet My Turn?!"
When you have both in your mana pool and me in your hand, you must play me.
Draw a card for each draw step that you revealed me from your hand.
"What a second, who's playing with who here?"

Layout: This card is anthropomorphic; it is actually trying to cast itself despite the player being in control of it. It has bloodshot eyes, sweat beads, and clenched, straining teeth. It has cartoon-like hands and feet poking in. It is pushing aside two other barely visible cards (Electrolyze and Fire // Ice) in an effort to leap out of the player's hand onto the table. The edges are 'worn' from 'seeing too much play'. Has a typical Izzet watermark, but the dragon has ?! over its head instead of a crown.

Big Blind

All players play one hand of No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker using their life points as chips, your library as the shoe, the five colors of Magic as suits, and each card's converted mana cost as its rank. You are the dealer and the big blind is two life. Redeal any colorless cards. The winner gains the pot in life. Afterwards, shuffle all cards that were dealt during Big Blind back into your library.

Layout: This card looks like a Queen of Spades with a pseudo-mirror-fold along the diagonal. The normal frame border is missing. The upper-right half shows Braids filling in as our Queen of Black, indicated as a 'Two of Black'. Jaya, upside-down at bottom-left, is our Queen of Red as a 'Two of Red'. Braids and Jaya are in equal emphasis, shooting each other a look. The title box appears both on the top half (Braids) and upside down on the bottom half (Jaya). The rest of the card info is centered along the diagonal. I've included a rough image.

Smith N. Wesson, Vigilante

A Creature of whom Legends are told
Aliases: the Dwarf, the Rogue, the Assassin
, : Put six bullet counters on Smith N. Wessen, Vigilante if there are no bullet counters on him.
, remove a bullet counter from Smith, : Smith deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Untap Smith.
Whenever Smith deals damage to a creature, that creature falls to the ground in agonizing pain (turn it face down as a 2/2 creature).
"My bullets teach humility. My gun preaches justice."

Layout: Smith N. Wesson is a half-outlaw / half-enforcer loner and vagabond Dwarf. He is brandishing his large and uniquely powerful revolver, whose personally engineered bullets have brought him fame throughout Dominaria.
Scene: Outdoors in the wild west.
Focus: Smith, poised and ready.
Mood: More action is coming soon.
Smith has a faint watermark "WANTED" in his text box. The tap symbol on his abilities is a revolver. The typeline is a torn poster. There's a tumbleweed on the copyright line. Gunsmoke pierces top of frame and there are bullet holes.

Designer's Notes:

The craziness requirement wasn't obvious; I ran the gamut and hopefully got a hit.

Card - (Design Goal) Notes.

Muscle Memory - (Combination) Straightforward, but houses more tricks than intended.

Spike, Tourney Winner - (Cycle) Master of the Broken mechanic (the B&R list). Breaks cycle tightness by being flavorfully undercosted (and possibly unfun, I fear).

Izzet My Turn?! - (Crazy) Massive cheating issues forced numerous redesigns. Strange tension. Raising its mana cost makes it better?! The weirdness and my poor templating hinders grokkability. I need another designer's opinion here.

Big Blind - (Audience) Almost cut for grokkability, but it nails its audience with depth of play (plus there's an UnFAQ). This playtested fantastically in a Rainbow Stairwell deck when my opponent didn't autofold for Syphon Soul by checking to the flop instead.

Smith N. Wesson, Vigilante - (Flavor) Breaks Magic's flavor rules for a true Alaborn gunslinger. Wow, his bullets HURT! I love this card.

Devin: Nagle comes in with 8,4,6, a good array of scores. This week I found Big Blind a good design. Poker matches well to the attributes of Magic cards, and the games' cultures have run together in some areas. On Smith N. Wesson, I liked the flavor of ",: Reload 6 counters" and ",use a counter: Ping something" a lot. I didn't understand why a creature hit with a bullet would turn into a morph though - the "agonizing pain" flavor was a miss for me. Overall, the card was neither a hit nor a miss for me. Spike Tourney Winner is a good example of a card that is kind of funny to read, but just plays horribly. Un-cards have to be played and have to be fun to play, and a one-per-deck 5/6 with no other drawbacks is a bad idea even in silver-bordered world. Muscle Memory had the germ of a good idea, in a concentration style game, but the execution means that when you announce it your opponent could look and memorize everything, than guess them all correctly. If you shuffled the face-downs before guessing it would play a lot better. A slight miss for me. The draw trigger card did not seem very interesting to me, and was also a miss. With only one hit and three misses this week, this was a tough week for Nagle. 2 out of 10. 8,4,6,2=20 (2 this week). I'd love to see Nagle send in more 8's!

Aaron: Big Blind got a big LOL from me, and I'm not even a poker player. The mana cost of black and red was icing on the cake. There were a couple misses, though-Spike is so overpowered as to be lame, and Izzet My Turn?! feels too easily breakable-just play it in a mono-red deck with a handful of Coldsteel Hearts for the minimum blue mana requirement. Muscle Memory has promise, and Smith N. Wesson is a nice top-down card, although I hated the guns in Portal: Second Age so much that I'd be loathe to revisit them, even in parody. Kenneth was safely in my middle third this week.

Gleemax: I think you're good, but I'm not sure you're good enough. Time to step it up.

Mark: Kenneth, I was a bit torn by your submission. On one hand, you clearly took my advice from last week to heart. I stressed you needed to work on your execution and you did. Pluses for that. On the other hand, I was less impressed with your overall work than I have been in other weeks. These cards seem like cards that could be in an Un-set, but not the ones that would be memorable. My favorite was Big Blind (something you don't know is that Unglued II had a card very similar to this, an artifact called Poker Table - if you've seen the dogs playing Magic art from the FNM version of Mise, this is the card it was commissioned for).

Smith N. Wesson, Vigilante is about as flavorful as an Un-card can be. I wish the play value was as awesome as the way it's templated. Muscle Memory was very solid. I felt Spike, Tourney Winner was kind of obvious and not horribly original (note that it's the kind of card we might make, it just isn't a great audition design). Izzet My Turn? puzzles me because it seems like it's a card that wants to go in a deck that doesn't play red and blue, allowing you to splash the color right when you want to draw a large number of cards. The trick now is to get the two designers in you to make cards together.


Abyssal Datekeeper (Rare)

Creature - Avatar
Whenever Abyssal Datekeeper is put into a graveyard from play, all players'
life totals becomes equal to the day of the month.
Today: Brunch with Squee. Take Masticore to the vet. Avoid "time of the month" jokes.

Abyssal Datekeeper's theme is the calendar, so I'd like Abyssal Datekeeper's art and layout to resemble a day calendar as much as possible. The picture itself should be a parody of the old Abyssal Gatekeeper but he should be attached to a giant Phyrexianesque calendar. He should be using one of his many arms to read a day planner. His power and toughness box should be changed to look like a day calendar entry. The flavor text should be written in like a note on a calendar page.

Izzet Roulette (Online Rare)

Remove from the game a copy of a random instant or sorcery with converted mana cost X. At any time this game you may play that spell as though it was in your hand without paying its mana cost.
Buyback - Discard a basic land.
And that's why Tik never bet against red again.

I'd like this card to look like an ode to Niv-Mizzet himself much in the same style as the Izzet signet. Card frame should be sculpted for Niv's beauty. The art would have Niv Blindfolded casting a deadly spell on a poor Izzet goblin (Tik). In the background of the art I'd like to see a charred picture of Momir Vig's avatar, since it was obviously Niv's inspiration.

Unopposable Force (Offline Rare)

Creature - Elemental
Unopposable Force may not be equipped.
Whenever one of your thumbs touches a card, sacrifice Unopposable Forces and Unopposable Force deals 5 damage to you.
Some say his only problem is that none of his critics have ever given him two thumbs.

Unopposable Force's picture should focus on a large elemental with fingers that do not have thumbs. The force should be trying to hold things but keep dropping them to the ground and right out of the card art, where they would be falling through the text box and an assortment of equipments would be littered on the bottom boarder including swords, Bonesplitters, Jittes, etc.

Graw, the Epistemophobe (Online Rare)

Legendary Creature - Cyclops
Graw, the Epistemophobe gets -1/-1 for each card in your library.
One bad Mophobe.

I'd like to see Graw coming out of his art box with a look of terror on his face looking at a wise looking wizard in the bottom corner of his art. The wizard himself should look fairly harmless and terribly dwarfed in comparison to the Cyclops but should be trying to instruct Graw with a blackboard. The comparisons between the two should be fairly reminiscent of an elephant and a mouse.

Token Victory

Put a white and green enchantment token named "Token Victory" into play with
"At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control ten token permanents and no non-token permanents, you win the game."
"After razing the better half of Dominaria, who knew that we would be defeated by an army of pennies, plastic army men and a pog?"
-Katal, Keldon general

Token victory should look like a token and will also have loose change or beads drawn on top of it in places. The art would mirror this with a large multitude of armed beads, pennies, poker chips, plastic dinosaurs, playing cards, etc. all charging off to battle.

The major problem I had with Unhinged was that it was exclusively offline. I do the majority of my magic playing online, so I figured it was online player's turn. So I dub this week's submission Unline. I realized that an online only set would alienate offline players, so I came up with this solution: Have a core Unline set of 100 or so "core" cards that would be available offline and online. Then with 40 cards that would be offline only (Unopposable Force) and 40 online only (Roulette & Graw) you get the best of both worlds. Once I decided on this direction the ideas started pouring out, since there is so much untapped design space with online-only cards, especially Unline only. These cards are obviously only the tip of the proverbial ice berg, but I wanted to have some traditional Un-cards along with the new world.

Devin: Sutherland has earned 10,7,8, our best array so far. This week was very disappointing. Token Victory was way too close to The Cheese Stands Alone. Unopposable Force was too similar to Gluetius Maximus, but plays much worse since it's a 5/5 - totally game-ruining if it doesn't trigger, and fairly game-ruining if it does trigger. I did enjoy the "can't be equipped" joke. Graw doesn't read well, and a reward for mostly decking yourself is fine, but this does not feel like a reward for decking yourself that makes sense. Abyssal Datekeeper was a little boring and didn't really do anything. Izzet Roulette is not a good implementation of Momir Vig's avatar, in that a random 3 mana creature almost always attacks and blocks, but there are tons of 3 mana spells that would do nothing, or that you'd never want to cast. In a pretty bizarre contrast to previous success, this submission was 5 misses this week. 2 out of 10. 10,7,8,2=27 (2 this week). This was troubling. Hopefully, Un-cards are just a weak spot.

Aaron: Ryan really fumbled this week. His two online cards don't begin to explore what could be done in an online-only card set. They are way, way too tame-I wanted to see more of the iceberg, as I've already seen the tip thanks to Vanguard Avatars like Akroma, Jaya Ballard, and Momir Vig. His three non-online cards weren't original enough to bail his submission out, putting Ryan surprisingly in my bottom third.

Gleemax: Dreadful, absolutely dreadful. The only good news is it appears to be a race again.

Mark: Ryan, be glad you're graded cumulatively because this was by far your weakest submission. You had an interesting idea, making some of the cards for online, but you just didn't carry through or went to obvious places. You have all the resources of a computer and the best you can do is count the number of cards in the library and copy Momir Vig? Your offline cards were also all a miss. Abyssal Datekeeper is either broken or plays horribly. Unhinged's Elvish House Party already played around in this area and it at least had the ability to change during play. Unopposable Force was also messing around in an area we've messed around in (with cards like Unhinged's Vile Bile and Gluetius Maximus) without adding anything new. Token Victory seemed like a lackluster, and probably pretty easy, alternative win condition. Hopefully this week will serve a kick in your proverbial pants that this job isn't yours yet. You slipped this week and others are passing you by. Get back on the top of your game and show us what we've seen in previous weeks.


Yank into the Void (Rare)

Remove target player from the game until end of turn. (While removed from the game, players may not lose life, be the target of spells or abilities, or be enchanted. They may not attack, block, play any spells or abilities, take any actions, or make any decisions).
"Have you been avoiding me?"

Card description:
The art shows a planeswalker and the world around him being sucked into a point of singularity. At the center of it all is a vortex, a cross between a black hole and a bathtub drain. His hands clutch the card frame (in the lower right corner) as his feet and the rest of the room stretch and swirl. The entire card is bending and distorting from the force of the vortex. Words and other small objects are being pulled out of place. The expansion symbol has broken free and bounced off of our planeswalker's forehead, leaving an impression.

Mind Trick (Rare)

: Target opponent searches your library and chooses a card, then you may guess its converted mana cost. If you are right, put the card into your hand, otherwise remove it from the game. Then shuffle your library.
"Pick a card, any card"

Card description:
The art shows two wizards. One has the confident air of someone who has just guessed right. The other is holding a card at arms length. He is cringing because the top half of the card is in the process of transforming into a full blown tidal kraken, in mid pounce. Scattered over the rest of the card, we see small cards, some face down, some face up; the detritus of incorrect guesses.

Turn of the seasons (Rare)

CARDNAME comes into play with any orientation.
At the beginning of your upkeep, rotate CARDNAME one quarter turn clockwise to the next season.
Only right side up seasons have an effect.
Spring - Whenever you tap a land for mana, add 1 to your mana pool.
Summer - Creatures you control get +2/+2.
Autumn - Sacrifice a creature: Add R equal to its converted mana cost to your mana pool.
Winter - Creatures get -2/-2.

Card description:
The top 30% of this card contains the title bar, type bar, and main text box, leaving a large square area below. Centered in this square is the card art, surrounded by four small text boxes containing the season specific rules. When a box is on top, its text is right side up. Seasons flow in their natural order. The art shows a fisheye view of a neutral outdoor scene with a continuum of seasons wrapping around, matching the seasonal rules boxes. In the art and on the card, we see woodland animals being born, frolicking, and then dying.

Psych (Rare)

You may play CARDNAME only if no opponents have played a spell since your last turn.
Look at target player's hand. You may play a non-land card in it without paying its mana cost.

Card description:
The back of this card has the words "Go ahead, I double dare you." superimposed on a normal card back. On the front, the art shows a red mage with hands aflame as though he had started a spell, but decided to hold back. Before him, he sees an illusory blue/black mage threatening a counterspell. In reality, she is behind him siphoning a spell out of his head. The card looks as though a sticker is being peeled off revealing this card. Through the translucent back of the "sticker", we see that it is a counterspell called "Double Dare".

Mark Rosewater (Rare)

Legendary Creature - Human Designer
: Until end of turn, remove any keyword or phrase from the text of target permanent or spell.
"Elegance is the art of doing more with less"

Card description:
The art shows Mark Rosewater seated at a desk. In front of him is a miniature Akroma firing a beam of magic energy. Mark is erasing the beam. On the wall behind him is a "to do" list. It has two items: "Destroy Magic" and "Save Magic". Beside him is a list of ideas, including "New card: Yawgmoth's Time Mox"* and "Roseanne themed block". The text block has a number of additional abilities, including "flying", "first strike", "trample", and ": Draw a card". All of them are readable but have been obviously crossed out or erased.

I'm aiming for a range of out of the box designs. "Yank into the Void" and "Mind Trick" are just over the line. "Yank into the Void", much like "Mindslaver", could be printed in normal Magic with rule's support. "Mind Trick" is even closer, but with the exception of "Liar's Pendulum", guessing games seem to be taboo in normal Magic. "Turn of the Seasons" is simple, but devilish to represent normally. I hope "Mark Rosewater" is as open ended as "R&D's Secret Lair". "Psych" requires that the set contain at least one other card with the same back. One of them should be a counterspell called "Double Dare". "Yank into the Void" uses an "until end of turn" effect rather than an "at end of turn" trigger to avoid problems if the return effect is countered.

* "Yawgmoth's Time Mox" from Magic Arcana 8/10/04

Devin: Van Essen has 2,5,5 from me so far, and he really needs to rescue himself to get to a safer place. This week, I liked remove target player from the game until end of turn a lot - does tons of interesting things - good job. Mind Trick I like also - seems like a really fun minigame. The poly-activated cost being so low will make this happen too often, and start to make it unfun, but that's easy to fix. Turn of the Seasons is a great great idea with a cool visual mechanic. The execution was not great though, weakening it. What deck wants all 4 of these things? I would rather see 4 abilities where the same deck would want all 4. 4 colors of mana is also unnecessary here, and makes it play a lot worse, for only a comparatively tiny aesthetic benefit of 4 colors for 4 seasons.

Psych did not make a lot of sense and read badly, even with, or perhaps because of the double cardback element. And I don't like Mark Rosewater very much. Yep, you heard it here first on "I don't like Mark Rosewater very much!" I speak, of course, about the card listed here, which is too unclear in what it's trying to do. What's a "phrase" on a Magic card? What's a "keyword"? Can I remove "fear" from the text of Cateran Enforcer? But the word "fear" isn't in the text box of Cateran Enforcer. A couple of hits and a couple of misses take this week to a 5. Total 2,5,5,5 = 17 (5 this week). For a while now 5's have been good scores. As the competition heats up and the shrinking applicant pool gets better and better, just having consistent 5's isn't going to be enough any more.

Aaron: Scott had my highest "LOL" count at a whopping one-and-a-half. Yank into the Void really tickled me even though it reads so simply. And the art description for the Mark Rosewater card is comic gold, even if the card itself is extra-medium. My favorite card of Scott's was Turn of the Seasons-it seemed novel, fun, and exciting. Psych was a dud, and Mind Trick made me uneasy, but all in all Scott is in my top third.

Gleemax: You rest too much weight on the novelty of your ideas. And they're not as novel as you think.

Mark: Scott, This challenge was all about stretching and you get points for trying to go into interesting areas. My problem is that you don't really follow through well once you get into the space. An example of this is Turn of the Season. I like the idea of an enchantment that rotates and the seasons seems flavorful. The problem was that rather than make a card with rotating effects (quick note autumn was a mistake as I believe all the effects wanted to be straight static abilities without activations) that had interesting play, you just chose the four effects you felt best captured the seasons. While this makes for a card that looks good, it ends up with lesser play value. Also, having one effect destroy a lot of creatures seems like a poor choice for something that wants to have lots of creatures in play for its effects to mean something.

Yank Into the Void was my favorite and ironically Mark Rosewater (I did really like the art description) was my least favorite. We experimented with this kind of effect and we found that in actual play it just doesn't work well. It needs more constraints than it has. It's also an obvious design space as you can see by looking at other designs turned in. Psych was another card that tried an interesting idea and, in my opinion, failed in execution. I just don't feel it would play well. I like the way you think and I feel you explore interesting areas but I think you need to get better at finding the solid design ideas within those areas.


Is it Show and Tell? (rare)

Choose a card in your hand and place it on the table face down. Your opponent gets ten yes/no questions about the face down card, which you must answer truthfully. At the end of the questions if your opponent guesses the face down card correctly, put it in your graveyard. Otherwise you may play that card without paying its mana cost.
In the next Limited Information: why you shouldn't play guessing games against people with Telepathy.

Concept: Focus on an Orgg, sitting at a table counting on his (four) hands, looking befuddled and lost in contemplation. Encircling his head are floating symbols: Scimitar expansion, "?", "X"-mana, "?", "Black mana", a gumdrop. In the lower left corner of the text box is a picture of Ragamuffyn thinking (in a thought bubble) ?I'll never tell...?

Respectify (rare)

Each player draws cards equal to the number of mulligans they've taken during the match. If instead during the match a player has audibly complained about luck, bad beats, ridiculous topdecks, or any other misfortunes that has happened to every single player that's ever played the game, then this card does nothing for them. Actually that player has to sacrifice a land, the whiner.
Hear that? That's the sound of a classy tournament player. And crickets.

Concept: A player sitting on side of the table, looking purple in the face and ranting. He hasn't noticed his young opponent has replaced himself with a straw doll, and is off in the corner playing videogames. The young opponent has a little blood trickling down his ear.

Revenging Power Stakes (rare)

Engage target opponent in a contest of wits as you each search your libraries for a land, creature, or artifact and remove it from the game face down. The contest is decided by land beating artifact, artifact beating creature, and creature beating land.
Each player reveals their card at the same time. The winner of the contest draws three cards (no one wins a tie).
Draw a card.

Concept: A gigantic coliseum/arena. In the middle are two minotaurs sitting at a table, each holding a fist or a hoof aloft. The arena is filled to the brim with screaming fans and monsters. In the bottom of the text box, Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, and Scissors Lizard are lighting a menorah.

The Great Designer Besmirch (rare)

Creature- Judge Jury Executioner
Very Scary Fear (This creature can only be blocked by two or more black and/or artifact creatures.)
Whenever you play a spell, you may point out something that you would improve if you were designing that card. If you do, gain five life and one poison counter.
It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this very exciting job search (subject to change).

Concept: A smiling imp in a powdered wig holding a large set of scales. On one side, 3-4 obvious R&D members. On the other side is a teeming mass of Magic players overflowing their side of the scales. The R&D side is much heavier.

The Sky is Falling Again (rare)

When you play The Sky is Falling Again, if it's the year 2055, everyone wins.
Otherwise, choose two: Counter target silver spell, or destroy target silver creature or sliver creature , or target player takes damage equal to the number of people watching your game, or put a 3/3 Pink Elephant into play, or all creatures target opponent controls can't do anything this turn (anything includes everything).
How could Magic have survived this long? It must have a really lucky charm!

Concept: Focus on a black, tempestuous sky. Raining down are various game decisions that have "destroyed Magic". For example: a card with the new frame, a 6th Edition rule book, Duelist #10, Umezawa's Jitte, Arcbound Ravager, Psionic Blast, Yawgmoth's Bargain, Mark Rosewater, this card. The items closest to the ground appear to be fading out. If room, little goblins running around comically underneath, while one is standing around looking at his watch, bored. Foil version has small Throne of Bone, Wooden Sphere, Crystal Rod, Iron Star, and Ivory Cup in the text box.

This was a fun challenge, perhaps too fun. I had lots of ideas for humor, my favorite being a card that showed David Mills shining Tommi Hovi's shoes. But you know a lot of those cards weren't actually fun to play. These five are a great combination of humor and enjoyable play value. I imagine someone calling people over to watch a game before casting TSIFA, or multiplayers watching with amusement as players play 20 (10) questions, or RPS. Respectify should be printed in regular Magic, but in the interim I like the effect its existence has on the game, at least at pre-releases. The Great Designer Besmirch came way too easily to me. I'm quite excited by the union of flavor, fun, and card design on this submission. These are all five that are dramatic and memorable, with hopefully some laughs thrown in.

Devin: Weil enters this week with 6,7,6. This week I liked The Sky is Falling Again most - it's just so goofy that it's appealing. The visual presentation is a good joke, and there are a lot of good jokes tucked in there. I hate extraneous text that doesn't do enough, but the 2055 clause was actually a hit for me, and well worth the text. The card hit for me. The Great Designer Besmirch was a very "meta" joke, but one that I enjoyed, and Very Scary Fear is a good un-keyword. After that, there are a couple of subgame cards, one 20 questions and one rock-paper scissors. Un-sets have had a lot of these so far, and it's a pretty obvious direction to go, so doing two of them seems to be a mistake. It gives up so many opportunities to show more innovation. Of these, 20 questions is at least a fun game to play with a Magic card, making it a partial hit, but rock paper scissors has already been done in un-sets before. Twice. This one is a miss. Respectify wouldn't go in decks, since people wouldn't want to play a card that does nothing if you didn't mulligan and your opponent didn't complain. Overall 4 out of 10, a significant drop from previous weeks. The biggest problem here is that we keep asking Weil for things that are totally new and innovative, and we keep not seeing it. Total 6,7,6,4 = 23 (4 this week).

Aaron: Noah's cards had a lot of words on them-way too many. Buried in all the text he sent in were a few jokes, a couple of which made me smile, but the batch really lacked any kind of smoothness. Is It Show and Tell? is the best of the lot, but the rest of them felt too much like in-jokes aimed at a very specific segment of the audience. These just didn't stand up to what the rest of the gang sent in. Bottom third.

Gleemax: Telling jokes is not the same as card design.

Mark: Noah, I feel last week was an important week for you as it showed your ability to stretch as a designer. This week was all about stretching and I feel you reverted a bit. Your designs had a sheen of Un-ness about them but when you scratch the surface they weren't all that innovative. Revenging Power Stakes makes a Rock Paper Scissors joke that we already made, twice (and your art description lets me know that you knew about one of them). Respectify and The Great Designer Besmirch are funny when you read them but wouldn't have any play value. The Sky Is Falling seems all over the place. The one standout was Is It Show and Tell? which actually has a fun minigame. As I explained on the podcast about The Great Designer Search (which comes out Saturday) design can be broken into two parts, design design and development design. The first is about finding new areas of design and the second is about exploring space near the ideas that have been done. You seem to excel at the second but are not shining in the first. To get this internship, you need to show me that you have design design potential.



Save Point (rare)

Paper version:

When Save Point comes into play, record each player's life total.
, sacrifice Save Point: Return each player's life total to its recorded value. If a player no longer in the game gains a positive life total this way, that player may rejoin the game with a new hand of 7 cards.

Online version:

As Save Point comes into play, save the game state. (This includes everything about the game. Players can't see information saved this way.)
: Return the game to its saved state, except this card is removed from the game.

The art: A cursor selecting Reload Game from a computer game menu screen. The other options are New Game, Save Game, and Richard Proposes to Lily. There is a Shandalar screenshot in the background.

Jackie, Paper Fugitive (paper rare, not sold online)

Paper version:

Legendary Creature-Human Rogue
When Jackie, Paper Fugitive comes into play, it deals 5 damage to target opponent.
When Jackie, Paper Fugitive is put into a graveyard from play, it deals 5 damage to you.
At the beginning of your upkeep you may pay W. If you do, remove Jackie, Paper Fugitive from the game.

Online version:
Legendary Creature-Human Rogue
Jackie, Paper Fugitive is white and red.

The online version can't be owned or put into decks. At the beginning of each player's upkeep in an online game with silver-bordered cards, there is a 1 in 200 chance that Jackie will come into play under that player's control. Jackie online looks just like a paper card (a very detailed rendering). The art shows a cowardly fire mage diving into a computer to avoid a fight with an Eager Cadet.

Bug (rare)

Paper version:

Whenever a player plays a spell or ability targeting Bug, that player must swat Bug within 5 seconds or it's countered. You may slide Bug around on the table to try to prevent this.
I said make it into a FEATURE not a creature!-Richard Garfield

Online version

Flash, Enchant spell (Play this in response to the spell.)
As Bug comes into play, choose a random instant or sorcery card in online Magic. Enchanted spell is now a copy of that card. (If it is now a targeted spell with no legal targets chosen, it's countered on resolution.)
Especially common in Beta , for some reason.

The paper version should look like a card does online: simply rendered, not the normal font, etc.
The art is, on both, the following text in a small but legible non-Magic font on a plain white background:
on infernal-tutor
if cards-in-hand = 0
tutor any
end if
if cards-in-hand 0
chosen-card == player-select hand
tutor chosen-card
end if
end infernal-tutor

OH MY GOD! (rare)

Paper version:

Gain 3 life. Draw 3 cards. Add to your mana pool. OH MY GOD! deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.
At any time in a game with silver-bordered cards, you may reveal the top card of your library. If it's OH MY GOD!, you may play it this turn without paying its mana cost. Otherwise, you lose the game. (Don't look at it. Just slam it.)

Online version:
* *
As OH MY GOD! is put into anywhere from your library, choose 2 different colors at random. OH MY GOD!'s mana cost becomes one of each of those colors.
If white was chosen, gain 3 life. Blue, draw 3 cards. Black, add to your mana pool. Red, OH MY GOD! deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Green, target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

The art: The head from Ancestral Recall, set against the background from Alpha Healing Salve's art, being hit by the Alpha Lightning Bolt and growing like the guy in 7th Edition Giant Growth, with the cold fire of Alpha Dark Ritual swirling around it.

The online version during a game should look like this, or the equivalent, when drawn:
OH MY GOD! (rare)

Gain 3 life. Draw 3 cards.
With no other text.

Protection Racket (rare)

Paper version:

At the beginning of your upkeep, each opponent chooses "Pay" or "Don't Pay." Gain 5 life for each opponent who chose "Pay." Double all life loss this turn by players who chose "Don't Pay."
Nice lands you've got here. Be a shame if flaming rocks were to fall on them.

Online version:

At the beginning of your upkeep, target opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.
During games of Pong, your paddle is indestructible.
Nice lands you've got here. Be a shame if flaming rocks were to fall on them.

Art: An elephant in an ill-fitting suit is aiming a machine gun at a tennis racket. Online, whenever the card saves your paddle from being destroyed, the art animates and shows the bullets bouncing off the racket.

My concept for the next Un-Set is one that would be available both online and offline, with differing texts but the same names and art for each card. A theme online would be cards that cause players to play games of Pong (the old table tennis computer game) and cards that bring Magic effects into the world of Pong (throwing a lightning bolt at your opponent's paddle, for example) in addition to an analogous game effect. There's a great shareware game called Battle Pong that did this with Mortal Kombat. These cards each highlight different twists on the paper/online duality. Color-pie-wise, S.W.A.T. effects are red and organized crime is white-black. The paper Protection Racket is a multiplayer Quoz card.

Devin: Weiner has 6,7,4 so far. An occasional alternate second version of a design or a six-card cycle is ok with me, but Weiner went over the deep end by submitting 10 totally different designs when we asked for 5. This might have been fine or maybe even helped him if the extra cards had enough payoff to them, and resulted in 8 hits, but this was a rough week for Weiner's designs with a lot of misses, and the extra cards just seemed to add a lot more misses. Overall, the "submit 10 cards" gambit is a big miss for me. I liked Bug for its online flavor, and because turning your opponent's spell into a random spell (likely making it do nothing) makes a lot more sense than the other applicant's design this week which turned your own cards into random instants or sorceries. I liked the online version of Save Point a lot too, and also the paper Oh My God was cool too - more fun than the other applicant's 5-boon design. That said, the paper save point, the paper Jackie, the online Jackie, the paper bug, the online oh my god, the paper protection racket, and the online protection racket formed 7 misses to balance the 3 hits, which is not very good. The pong idea seemed like an homage to this Mortal Kombat Pong mod, but I didn't see why it would be good for MTGO. The paper Save Point is pretty pointless. And having a 5/1 randomly appear in games when neither player wanted that to happen enough to put in their decks seems like a bad idea. People would be trying to play without either player wanting random 5/1's to show up and mess up the game, but it would just keep showing up. This was a very rough week for Weiner. 2 out of 10. 6,7,4,2=19 total (2 this week)

Aaron: An ambitious submission to be sure. He made a bunch of cards that actually probed the limits of what online cards can do, which is a step up from what Sutherland did. I like the online version of Save Point, the paper version of Protection Racket, and the paper version of OH MY GOD!, but three out of ten is barely better than one out of five. On top of that, I feel the need to dock an imaginary point or two for the fact that he submitted ten cards supposedly in pairs, although the links between the versions of the same card were so tenuous at times as to be detrimental to the cohesiveness of the theoretical set and, at the very least, the submission. A big, valiant, swing, which counts for something...but mostly a miss. My middle third this week...barely. I did enjoy the random Puff the Magic Dragon reference, though.

Gleemax: Very mixed bag of cards. Let's hope the inspired ones keep the bombs from sending you home.

Mark: Aaron, you get points for making the biggest gamble of any of the applicants. What you attempted here was a big risk. I'm sorry to say that it mostly failed for me. My favorite cards were the Online version of Save Point and Oh My God!. I felt the offline version of Jackie didn't have enough to be worth doing. The paper versions of Jackie and Protection Racket didn't seem Un enough for me. You almost had the same problem with the offline Oh My God! But your extra ability saved you. I'm not sure what to make of your Pong idea. It's either brilliant or awful and I honestly don't know which. I really wanted to like your submissions more than I did and I do like the boldness in trying what you did.


Now that we've reviewed the submissions it's time for elimination. As I explained above, starting with this week, we eliminated immediately after judging.

Alexis Janson


Alexis has been doing well all competition but this week was her week to shine. She had what I consider both the best submission and best card (Executive Decision) of the week.

Graeme Hopkins


Another solid week from Graeme. If he just notches up his game a little bit he can easily win this thing.

Kenneth Nagle


While not Kenneth's strongest week he gets brownie points for listening to the judges' advice.

Ryan Sutherland


Ryan should be happy this reality show isn't like "The Apprentice" where the weakest performer on any one task gets booted. Ryan's submission was bottom of the pack this week. Hopefully, future weeks will show the Ryan of previous tasks.

Noah Weil


Noah has a lot of skills that would make him an excellent developer and maybe with time he could blossom into an excellent designer but the competition is rising and Noah wasn't able to show us enough of these skills in time.

Mark Globus


Mark had an okay week. Luckily, good enough to avoid the axe this week. Mark is another applicant that needs to step it up if he wants to stay in contention.

Scott Van Essen


Scott had a lot of interesting ideas this week. Enough so that I felt he deserved more time to show us what he can do. But the clock is ticking.

Chris Luhrs


Chris delivered with his back to the wall, but he's not out of the woods just yet. The eliminations are based on conglomerate work and Chris still has some catching up to do.

Aaron Weiner


This process is getting harder and harder. Aaron has a lot of skills as a designer, but his submissions were very hit-and-miss. With a field this strong, that wasn't enough to stay out of the bottom two.

And with that, we are now down to seven candidates. We'll be back in two weeks (we're off Thursday and Friday next week due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday - for our non-US audience, it's a day of feasting and football watching) with the submissions for Design Challenge #4, followed by part two of that week when the judges review the submissions and we cut two more applicants.

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