Most of the playtest cards we show here on Magic Arcana—you know, the nifty stickers that spell out what the new cards do—are used only for playtesting Limited, meaning Sealed Deck and Draft. Every time a set goes through big changes, a new batch of stickers are created and R&D has to spend lots of time stickering up cards.
But for playtesting Constructed decks, there's a much quicker way of creating new cards. It's called a pen.
With the sheer number of decks being tested in the FFL (Future Future League—R&D's internal playtesting league) and the quick pace at which the decks are tuned and the cards in the decks tweaked, it makes no sense to use stickers. Writing on blank cards or using older cards as "proxies" is the way to go. Here are some playtest cards from our FFL version of Onslaught-era Reanimator. This deck was being tested right after Odyssey came out, so the Torment, Judgment, and Onslaught cards didn't exist yet.
The six cards are:
- Doomed Necromancer. Called "Animagus" in development, this fellow was represented by an Urza's Destiny Apprentice Necromancer with the words "BT, swap w/ dead fatty" written on it.
- Visara the Dreadful. The costs of the Pit Fighter Legends were constantly in flux; this version of Visara cost 7 mana.
- Barren Moor. Once all of our Urza's Saga cycling lands were used up, we had to represent the Onslaught cycling lands by simply writing on basic lands
- Phantom Nishoba. As Judgment was already finished at the time, this card's stats and name are identical to the printed version. "Ghost" was the design name for the Phantom ability.
- Rorix Bladewing. Another Pit Fighter, Rorix was 6/6 for for a little while. Avatar of Fury provided a fine stand-in.
- Laquatus's Champion. "Strangle" was the design name for the Nightmare ability. This particular card was used and reused, first as a Basking Rootwalla (in a different deck), then as a Rorix ("Haste Dragon"), and finally as the Champion.