Topical Blend #1 – To Err Is Human

Posted in Making Magic on January 2, 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.

Clearly my number one column of 2005. Possibly my number one column of all time (it does have some competition but it's at least a contender). If you enjoy when I invest a little of my personal life into my columns then this column is for you. Also, the non-Magic advice in this column is dead-on. I had multiple letters from readers who deal with these types of issues professionally who were impressed with much of what I said. And hey, my dating embarrassments are entertaining if nothing else.

Two weeks ago I announced that I was going to let all of you choose my topic for today. Then to shake things up I announced that I was going to let you pick not one, but two topics (one Magic design related and the other not) that I would then entwine into an offbeat but entertaining column. So, here's what you all picked:

List A – Magic Design Themed Topics (Choose one)
10 Worst Designed Cards 963 12.1%
Impossible things to do in Magic 902 11.4%
Pros and Cons of Introducing a Sixth Color 734 9.2%
Why R&D has been hosing blue 417 5.3%
Biggest changes in Magic that never happened 416 5.2%
Enchant Worlds 373 4.7%
Original Decisions in Magic (Why five colors? Why those basic lands?, etc.) 362 4.6%
Evolution of Power (How the Power Level of Magic Has Evolved) 358 4.5%
Where Is Magic Heading? 354 4.5%
Design follies (Card and Mechanic Designs That Went Awry) 271 3.4%
Cards That Failed To Get Through Design 178 2.2%
Popular Cards vs. Good Cards (And How We Design Each) 169 2.1%
What Would Magic Be Like Without Rarity 158 2.0%
New Race/Class System 148 1.9%
Creatures with Power of 2 That Cost 1 147 1.9%
Designing Multicolor Cards 138 1.7%
Why Better & Worse Versions of Existing Cards Get Printed 133 1.7%
Evolution of a Color 127 1.6%
Designing for multiplayer 118 1.5%
The Changing of the Color Wheel 109 1.4%
Designing Blue Cards 100 1.3%
Designing For Deck Archetypes Kept In Check (Discard Decks, Land Destruction Decks & Permission Decks) 95 1.2%
The Creation of Frogs In Magic 92 1.2%
The Role of Chaos Inducing Cards 88 1.1%
Choosing Set Themes 87 1.1%
Designing Ante Cards, Licids, and Nettling Imp Style Creatures 80 1.0%
How Sixth Edition Rules Affect Design 74 0.9%
Mana Costs Commensurate with Their Power 63 0.8%
Alpha "Boon" cycle 54 0.7%
Mana Costs 52 0.7%
Revisit the Top You Make the Card Mechanics 51 0.6%
Designing for Limited 46 0.6%
Learning from Design Mistakes 44 0.6%
The Kindle/Burst mechanic 39 0.5%
Non-Elegant Cards 39 0.5%
Themes outside Magic affecting Magic design 36 0.5%
Ebb and Flow of Creature Types 35 0.4%
Designing Cost Reduction Mechanics 35 0.4%
How the Public Impacts Magic 34 0.4%
Designing Removal 31 0.4%
Designing Enchantments 31 0.4%
Timing and Tempo and Their Impact on Design 31 0.4%
How Designing Magic Is Similar to Building a Paper Airplane 31 0.4%
How has my personal life affected my design 30 0.4%
Designing Creature Stealing Cards 30 0.4%
Juxtaposition in Design 14 0.2%
Designing for various formats 12 0.2%
Design of the card Firestorm 11 0.1%
Total 7940 100.0%
List B – Non-Design Themes (Choose One)
Girls 1053 12.0%
“Mark Rosewater is &$%^# Insane” 753 8.6%
Mathematics & Magic 705 8.0%
Monty Python 631 7.2%
Dungeons & Dragons 494 5.6%
“Old School” Magic 443 5.0%
Slivers 412 4.7%
What It's Like To See Your Cards Banned 402 4.6%
Top 10 Vital Lessons for New Players 398 4.5%
How the Internet Affected Magic 326 3.7%
Gleemax 323 3.7%
The Dune Chronicles 293 3.3%
Lack of Marsupials in Magic 235 2.7%
Card Advantage Without Card Drawing 230 2.6%
Invisible Banana Splits 212 2.4%
Time Travel 165 1.9%
Flying Pigs 158 1.8%
Rock Music 154 1.8%
Saprolings 152 1.7%
Lhurgoyfs 146 1.7%
“Roseanne” 138 1.6%
Mistform Ultimus 133 1.5%
Reiver Demon 130 1.5%
Sit-coms Changing Actors Mid-Show 112 1.3%
Pitfalls to Learning the Game 86 1.0%
Dinosaurs 82 0.9%
Love 81 0.9%
Book Recommendation for Designers 64 0.7%
How I Became a Magic Designer 62 0.7%
Family Relationships and Magic (Ruel Brothers, Phil and Kaja, etc.) 61 0.7%
Money 60 0.7%
How has Magic design affected my personal life 48 0.5%
Reptiles 24 0.3%
How I Choose My Topics/ How My Columns Are Created 16 0.2%
Total 8782 100.0%

Top 10 Worst Designed Cards and Girls. Hmm. This should prove to be interesting.

And for those that have noticed that I gave this little experiment its own name and then numbered it number one might tip my hat that I just might do this again in the future. (I've been told my A list was, well, A-List.) By the way, I'm curious to hear what all of you thought about this experiment, so please drop me a line once you're done.

But let's get back to the column at hand. Bad Designs, women. Where do those two topics merge? Click below to find out.


Latest Making Magic Articles


September 26, 2022

Making Space, Part 2 by, Mark Rosewater

Welcome to the second week of Unfinity previews. Last week, I talked about the creation of the set's main two mechanics. This week, I'm going to talk about everything else, all the other ...

Learn More


September 20, 2022

Making Space, Part 1 by, Mark Rosewater

Welcome to the first week of Unfinity card previews. It feels so good to write that. Today, I'm going introduce all the design teams, walk through how we designed the two main mechanics, ...

Learn More



Making Magic Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All