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

Posted in NEWS on December 3, 2013

Hello everyone. As this is the first time we've ever done anything like The Great Designer Search we are learning as we go. The lesson of last week was "too much text, for all that is holy, too much text!". Last week was even longer than it would have been since we included my comments for both weeks, but we've decided to try something a little different this week. This week the episode is broken into two parts. The first part that you're about to read will eliminate three candidates from last week's Design Challenge and then show all the submissions for the third Design Challenge.

Then Friday we'll have the second part with the judges' comments and the eliminations (yes another change - we will now be eliminating candidates the same day we judge the submissions). We will be repeating the applicant's submissions on Friday so that you can refer to them but our hope is that because you read them today you can just skip/skim those sections (unless you need to refer to them). Also, this will give all of you a chance to respond on the boards what you think before the judges give their two cents. Hopefully, this will make The Great Designer Search a little easier to read and a little more interactive. Finally, a couple of candidates submitted photoshopped card mockups that are pretty fun. We don't want to bias the audience's opinion of the card designs with these mockups, so we're going to present the mockups in the Friday article.


Before we can see this week's submissions though we have to first eliminate three candidates from last week's Design Challenge (#3 - "Picture This") Click on the link if you need a refresher on the challenge or the submissions.

Before I eliminate anyone, I'd like to stress that the eliminations are very hard to do because the quality level of the work has been so high and I admire how hard all of the candidates have been working. But there's only one internship position so eliminations are a necessary evil. For each candidate click to see whether they are in (CONTINUE PLAYING) or out (GAME OVER).

Ryan Sutherland

Alexis Janson

Graeme Hopkins

Kenneth Nagle

Christopher Jablonski

Noah Weil

Mark Globus

Aaron Weiner

Andrew Emmott

Scott Van Essen

Andrew Probasco

Chris Luhrs

Now that we know who the remaining nine applicants are, let's see what they have to do. Here is the assignment for Design Challenge #3 as it was sent to the candidates:

Dear Applicants,

Congratulations on advancing past another round! I hope it was helpful to get a preview of tonight's article a little ahead of time.

Welcome to the third Design Challenge - "Silver & Gold". The first design challenge asked you to make fifteen cards. The second required ten. We're keeping with this trend and for the third challenge we're asking you to design five cards. (Boy, next week sounds easy.) Just five cards, that's all.

Okay, it might be a little harder than it sounds. This task is asking for three things of these cards:

#1) All five cards must be rare. And not just any kind of rare cards. We're looking for sexy, get-people-excited, preview worthy rares. This doesn't just mean they have to be cool and interesting; the cards have to be something the audience can easily grok. For this category you will be judged on how well the cards feel as rares, how exciting they are and how grokkable they are. (If the term "grokkable" confuses you, see below.)

#2) All five cards must be traditional multicolor. By traditional, I mean with multiple colors represented in the mana cost and a gold frame (so no split cards or hybrid funny business). For this category you will be judged on how well the cards function as multicolor. Is each color represented in the spell? Would this spell be impossible to do in monocolor? As far as what color combinations you use, you have the following rules. The cards do not need to be a cycle. You may use any color combinations you like. Each of the five colors have to be represented on a least one card and no two cards can have the same color combination.

#3) All five cards have to be Un-cards. That is, all five cards have to fit the style of Unglued and Unhinged. Yes, you're designing silver bordered cards. You will be responsible for the entire look and feel of the card.

What this means is that for each card you have to provide a realistic name, realistic flavor text if appropriate and a hundred-word description of how the card will look (including the card concept for the art) and how it will be laid out if it is in any way different from normal. This test is not about the designing of the card - you will also get a chance to do that, see below. This category will be judged based on how much it feels like an Un-card (which includes not being something we can just put into a normal set) and how well the entire overall card as a holistic whole feels. This criteria is probably the hardest one of the challenge. Un-cards are designed very differently from most cards as all the different pieces have to be created at the same time to meld them together and create cards with an overall feel. I am putting a limit of no more than two parody cards, and you are by no means required to do even one. I also want to note that this category will be judged much more on your ability to design outside the box than your ability to create humor. (Being funny will mostly help you holistically.)

To help with this assignment, I am going to suggest a number of my columns on relevant topics.

On rare design:

- "Rare But Well Done" -

On grokkability:

- "Between a Grok and a Hard Place -

On multicolor design: (note it's a section in the middle)

- "City Planning I" -

On Un-card design:

- "Putting the Un in Fun" -

- "The Un Starts Now" -

- "Un and Games" -

- "Having Un" -

Finally, at the end, you will be able to write one hundred and fifty words about the design of all five cards (or any subset thereof).

That's it. Just five cards.

Have Un,

Mark Rosewater

(The official rules for The Great Designer Search are posted at

Yes, today's challenge was one near and dear to my heart - Un design. Here's what our nine remaining applicants came up with.


Demonic Tutored
3 ManaBlue ManaBlack Mana
Creature - Human Wizard
Black Mana, 1/2Tap: Search your library for a card, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it.
Blue Mana, 1/2Tap: 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
3 ManaBlue ManaGreen Mana
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
6 ManaBlue ManaBlue ManaRed ManaRed Mana
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
1 ManaWhite ManaBlue Mana
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
1 ManaBlack ManaGreen Mana
Creature - Spike
Spike Feeder comes into play with 2 +1/+1 counters on it.
2 Mana, 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?


Angel of Death (rare)
4 ManaWhite ManaBlack Mana
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)
2 ManaWhite ManaBlue ManaBlack ManaRed ManaGreen Mana
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)
1 ManaRed ManaGreen Mana
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.
Flashback 2 ManaRed ManaGreen Mana

/"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)
Blue ManaBlack Mana
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)
X ManaBlue ManaRed Mana
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.


Division of Labor
2 ManaBlue ManaRed Mana
(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
2 ManaBlack ManaBlack ManaGreen Mana
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
3 ManaWhite ManaBlack Mana
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
2 ManaBlue ManaBlack Mana
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
X ManaGreen ManaBlue Mana
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.


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

Rare Drafter
3 ManaBlue ManaBlack Mana
Creature - Human Rogue
Protection from non-rares
Rare Drafter comes into play with a first-pick counter on it.
Tap, 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.

Blue ManaRed Mana
When you cast Spork, Spork becomes a copy of target spell except that colored mana in its mana cost may be paid for with Blue Mana or Red Mana 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
1 ManaRed ManaGreen ManaGreen Mana
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.

3 ManaGreen ManaWhite Mana
Creature - Elf Merchant Countershaper
1 Mana, Tap: 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)
White ManaBlue ManaBlack ManaRed ManaGreen Mana
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.


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
4 ManaGreen ManaBlue Mana
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
1 ManaBlue ManaBlack Mana
Legendary Creature - Human Gamer
Broken (This card is broken. It has proven itself unbalanced in tournament play and is currently banned or restricted.)
3 Mana: 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 &gt; 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?!
Blue ManaRed Mana
During your draw step, if I am in your hand, you must reveal me saying, "Izzet My Turn?!"
When you have both Blue ManaRed Mana 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
Black ManaRed Mana
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
1 ManaRed ManaWhite Mana
A Creature of whom Legends are told
Aliases: the Dwarf, the Rogue, the Assassin
6 Mana, Tap: Put six bullet counters on Smith N. Wessen, Vigilante if there are no bullet counters on him.
1 Mana, remove a bullet counter from Smith, Tap: 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.


Abyssal Datekeeper (Rare)
5 ManaWhite ManaBlack Mana
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 Gatekeeper'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)
X ManaBlue ManaRed Mana
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)
1 ManaBlack ManaGreen Mana
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)
3 ManaRed ManaGreen Mana
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
3 ManaGreen ManaWhite Mana
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.


Yank into the Void (Rare)
3 ManaWhite ManaBlack Mana
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)
1 ManaWhite ManaBlue Mana
1 Mana: 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)
White ManaBlack ManaRed ManaGreen Mana
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)
3 ManaBlue ManaBlack Mana
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)
2 ManaBlue ManaRed Mana
Legendary Creature - Human Designer
Tap: 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 "Tap: 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


Is it Show and Tell? (rare)
2 ManaBlue ManaGreen Mana
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)
White ManaGreen Mana
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)
1 ManaBlue ManaRed Mana
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)
2 ManaWhite ManaBlack Mana
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)
White ManaBlue ManaBlack ManaRed ManaGreen Mana
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.



Save Point (rare)

Paper version:
White ManaBlue Mana
When Save Point comes into play, record each player's life total.
3 Mana, 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:
3 ManaWhite ManaBlue Mana
As Save Point comes into play, save the game state. (This includes everything about the game. Players can't see information saved this way.)
3 Mana: 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:
2 ManaWhite ManaRed Mana
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:
Red ManaGreen Mana
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
Blue ManaRed Mana
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:
White ManaBlue ManaBlack ManaRed ManaGreen Mana
Gain 3 life. Draw 3 cards. Add Black ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana 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 Black ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana 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)
White ManaBlue Mana
Gain 3 life. Draw 3 cards.
With no other text.

Protection Racket (rare)

Paper version:
2 ManaWhite ManaBlack Mana
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:
White ManaBlack Mana
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.


There you go. Join us on Friday (tomorrow, as this goes up) to see all the judges' comments and before the episode ends we will have eliminated two more candidates. (Once again, we are going to begin eliminating candidates the same day as the judging.)


Please join the thread and give your opinion on the submissions and your opinion on who should (and who will) be eliminated, as well as your thoughts on the new format of breaking the articles across two days each week.


See you then.


Mark Rosewater