You Make The Card Wrapup

Posted in Feature on December 6, 2002

By Mark Rosewater, R&D senior designer

Well, it’s official. The very first “You Make the Card” is now over. After twenty four steps, you, the Magic playing public/ faithful readers have designed your very own Magic card: Forgotten Ancient. So without any further ado, here is the card you will see print in the 2003 spring expansion: (Be aware that there will be a few changes such as adding an expansion symbol).

As we wrap up our first “You Make the Card,” I thought it might be fun to run through all the decisions you made.

Step #1 – Color

We started by letting you choose the color. (We didn’t allow voting for artifacts or lands.) Here’s how the vote turned out:

Green 2887 25%
Blue 2704 23%
Black 2176 19%
Red 1934 17%
White 1852 16%
Total 11553 100%

Green edged out blue in one of the closest votes of the entire feature.

Step #2 – Card Type

Once we knew the card was green, we let all of you choose which card type. Here’s how the vote went:

Creature 7666 51%
Enchantment 3717 25%
Instant 2544 17%
Sorcery 1007 7%
Total 14934 100%

This vote was much more lopsided with creature beating the other three choices combined.

Step #3 – Choose Your Path

In an attempt to allow you the ability to affect not just the card, but how the card was going to be created, the next vote allowed you to pick which path you wanted to take to make the card by selecting which element of the card you would vote on next. Here’s how that vote went:

Mechanic 5915 58%
Type 2976 29%
Size 1243 13%
Total 10134 100%

Once again, the first choice won by a landslide. You wanted to start with the card mechanic. The high voter turnout also made us implement secure polling.

Step #4 – Making Mechanics

This was the step where we asked all of you to send in your card mechanic ideas.

Step #5 – Top Ten Card Mechanics

And boy did you deliver. We received over 5000 card mechanics. From these we selected a top ten for voting:

Card Mechanic #1 - CARDNAME can't be countered. Protection from blue As CARDNAME comes into play, choose a creature type. Creature spells of the chosen type can't be countered by spells or abilities.

Card Mechanic #2 - When CARDNAME is put into a graveyard from play, you may reveal the cards in your library. If you do, target opponent chooses from among them three creature cards with different names. Put one of them into play and the rest into your graveyard. Then shuffle your library.

Card Mechanic #3 - Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a player, you may search your library for a card named CARDNAME and put it into play. If you do, shuffle your library.

Card Mechanic #4 - All creatures able to block CARDNAME do so.
Whenever a creature blocks CARDNAME, you may draw a card.

Card Mechanic #5 - Except for enchant creature spells, noncreature spells cost 1 more to play.

Card Mechanic #6 - XM, T: Reveal the top X cards of your library. Put all creature cards with converted mana cost X into play and the rest into your graveyard.

Card Mechanic #7 - CARDNAME can't be countered. CARDNAME can't be the target of spells or abilities. Whenever CARDNAME deals combat damage to a player, that player can't play instant spells this turn.

Card Mechanic #8 - When CARDNAME is put into a graveyard from play, you may return it to play under its owner's control at end of turn.

Card Mechanic #9 - At the beginning of each player's upkeep, if you control four permanents named CARDNAME, you win the game.

Card Mechanic #10 - Whenever a player plays a spell, you may put a +1/+1 counter on CARDNAME. At the beginning of your upkeep, you may remove all +1/+1 counters from CARDNAME and distribute them among any number of creatures.

The vote results:

Mechanic #10 890 27%
Mechanic #8 537 16%
Mechanic #7 424 13%
Mechanic #1 275 8%
Mechanic #2 245 7%
Mechanic #4 243 7%
Mechanic #5 210 6%
Mechanic #3 182 5%
Mechanic #9 182 5%
Mechanic #6 144 4%
Total 3332 100%

Step #6 – Card Mechanics Run-Off

One of the rules of “You Make the Card” is that no vote could win if it didn’t have at least a third of the vote. This meant that most big votes had a run-off of the top three votes. For card mechanics, the three top vote-getters was #7, #8 and #10.

#10 1016 40%
#7 783 31%
#8 718 29%
Total 2517 100%

Alex Freeman, Mechanic #10’s designer earned the right to give his creation a design name. He, of course, chose the name "Mr. Babycakes."

Step #7 – Wall or No?

Once we knew the mechanic, we asked you if you wanted to go down a path that had been suggested on numerous threads on the bulletin boards. Should Mr. Babycakes be a wall? Your reply:

No 1013 54%
Yes 869 46%
Total 1882 100%

The vote was close but the majority of you wanted to beatdown with Babycakes.

Step #8 – Creature Size

Next, we had all of you vote on how big Mr. Babycakes would be. The three sizes were defined as such:

  • Small -- The creature’s power and toughness when added together will be 4 or less. The projected mana cost will be from two to four mana.
  • Medium -- The creature’s power and toughness when added together will be from 5 to 9. The projected mana cost will be from four to six mana.
  • Large -- The creature’s power and toughness when added together will be 10 or greater. The projected mana cost will be six or more mana.

Here’s how the vote went:

Small 925 60%
Medium 446 29%
Large 169 11%
Total 1540 100%

The voting was clear. You wanted a small (and most likely cheap) creature.

Step #9 – Power, Toughness & Mana Cost

Once we knew you wanted a small card, the next step was to give you a choice of power/toughness/mana cost combinations:

0/3 for 453 28%
0/1 for 320 20%
2/2 for 182 11%
0/2 for 175 11%
1/3 for 168 10%
0/4 for 158 10%
1/1 for 70 4%
3/1 for 43 3%
1/2 for 27 2%
2/1 for 21 1%
Total 1618 100%

Step #10 – Power, Toughness & Mana Cost Run-Off

Here’s how the run-off looked:

0/3 for 1159 53%
0/1 for 536 24.5%
2/2 for 492 22.5%
Total 2187 100%

You chose to have a creature with enough toughness to survive early attacks.

Step #11 – Creature Type

Once we had the mechanic, it was time for you to choose the creature type. Here were the ten choices:

Elemental 277 19%
Spike 240 16%
Fungus 222 15%
Elf 182 12%
Ooze 127 9%
Druid 118 8%
Plant 84 6%
Dryad 80 5%
Wizard 65 4%
Troll 38 3%
Beast 34 2%
Insect 14 1%
Total 1481 100%

Step #12 – Creature Type Run-Off

Here’s how the run-off went:

Elemental 910 40%
Spike 701 31%
Fungus 686 30%
Total 2297 100%

This vote was pretty tight, but when all was said and done Mr. Babycakes would become an Elemental.

Step #13 – Making Card Concepts

For this step we explained to you the idea of card concepts--the idea of what the card represents so that the artist has some idea what they need to illustrate. Afterwards, we collected your card concepts.

Step #14 – Top Ten Card Concepts

From your numerous ideas, the Creative Text guys (the people in charge of making card concepts), whittled down these top ten choices:

Card Concept #1 - A humanoid elemental of moss supports itself with a hand against a dead tree. From where the elemental touches, it spreads wild regrowth.

Card Concept #2 - A shambling plant-creature which can quickly grow large thorny spikes to protect itself. Afterwards it can shed these thorns, which make excellent weapons.

Card Concept #3 - A Venus flytrap with an oversized mouth inhales a spell. Tubules emit the spell from behind; small buds are seen.

Card Concept #4 - A lurching, hunched creature, completely covered in vines except his eyes. A huge malignant blossom protrudes from his back. His arm is strangling a wizard.

Card Concept #5 - A growing fungus-type creature that can shoot spores from itself to enhance other creatures' strength.

Card Concept #6 - A humanoid figure with skin made of bark, stag horns on head, and wood spikes on forearms. Surrounded by green aura.

Card Concept #7 - A chaotic and grotesque mass of overgrowth that is spewing all sorts of deadly-looking vegetation that could be used to enhance nearby beings.

Card Concept #8 - A green cactus-like creature. It feeds on magical energy, and can use this energy to give spines to other creatures nearby.

Card Concept #9 - A sentient mass of thorned vines. The vines can either act as armor for friendly forces or strike against foes.

Card Concept #10 - A humanoid figure that appears to be riding a clawed creature; they are one creature. They are composed of many green branches that are wrapped together and speckled with thorns.

And here’s how the initial vote went:

Card Concept #1 814 23.9%
Card Concept #2 479 14.1%
Card Concept #3 371 10.9%
Card Concept #4 330 9.7%
Card Concept #5 304 8.9%
Card Concept #6 287 8.4%
Card Concept #7 240 7.1%
Card Concept #8 237 7.0%
Card Concept #9 192 5.6%
Card Concept #10 147 4.3%
Total 3402 100%

Step #15 – Card Concept Run-Off

We, of course, had a run-off:
Card Concept #1 1373 46.2%
Card Concept #2 980 33.0%
Card Concept #3 620 20.8%
Total 2937 100%

It’s interesting to note that the top vote-getters for this round were card concepts #1, #2, and #3 in that order.

Step #16 – Artist

Once we had a card concept it was time to pick an artist. Magic’s art directors picked a list of eight artists whose style they felt best fit the card concept. These artists were:

  1. Glen Angus
  2. Matt Cavotta
  3. Jim Neslon
  4. Eric Peterson
  5. Ron Spears
  6. Artie Swekel
  7. Mark Tedin
  8. Pete Venters

Step #17 – Artist Run-off

The top three vote-getters (Matt Cavotta, Jim Nelson, and Mark Tedin) had a run-off. In a very close vote, Mark Tedin edged out Matt Cavotta by less than 50 votes. Mr. Babycakes would be illustrated by one of the old timers of Magic art (the only one on the list that illustrated cards in Alpha), Mark Tedin.

Step #18 – Making Card Names

It was now time to give Mr. Babycakes a real name. We asked you to send in suggestions.

Step #19 – Sketches

While we sorted through all the name submissions, we gave you a chance to look at three different sketches drawn by Mark Tedin. In each one, Mark took a slightly different take. Here they are:

Mr. Babycakes Skecth #1
Mr. Babycakes Skecth #2
Mr. Babycakes Skecth #3

And the result of the vote:

Sketch #3 2608 50%
Sketch #1 2177 42%
Sketch #2 424 8%
Total 5209 100%

With Sketch #2, Mark attempted a different take on an Elemental, but the majority of you seemed interested in a more conventional approach.

Step #20 – Development

Early in the process, I mentioned to you that after you designed the card, it would have to go to development. While you were busy designing some of the more flavorful aspects of the card, R&D was playtesting Mr. Babycakes. And they discovered it was a little too good. This step developer Brian Schneider gave all of you three options for how to adjust Mr. Babycakes:
0/3 for 2073 35.1%
0/4 for 1919 32.5%
0/1 for 1909 32.4%
Total 5901 100%

In the end, you chose to keep Mr. Babycakes a 0/3 but change its mana cost from to . Moving the mana cost from two green mana to one green mana created a lot of debate on the boards. Players were split over whether the easier ability to splash Mr. Babycakes was a positive or a negative.

Step #21 – Card Name & Making Flavor Text

It was now time to pick Mr. Babycakes’ new name. The choices were:

Forgotten Ancient 972 17.0%
Evolutionary Force 756 13.2%
Verdant Nexus 737 12.9%
Lifeweb Elemental 672 11.8%
Wildwood Sentinel 615 10.8%
Hand of Creation 500 8.7%
Moss Elemental 478 8.4%
Spirit of Nature 425 7.4%
Protonem 308 5.4%
Guardian of the Wild Spirit 255 4.5%
Total 5718 100%

Also, to help you understand how R&D use dual process (and because we were running out of time), we asked you to send in your flavor text ideas.

Step #22 – Card Name Run-off

The run-off went as follows:

Forgotten Ancient 2436 40.2%
Evolutionary Force 1916 31.6%
Verdant Nexus 1713 28.2%
Total 6065 100%

Mr. Babycakes was officially Forgotten Ancient.

Step #23 – Flavor Text

Finally, we came to our last vote, Forgotten Ancient’s flavor text. Here are the top ten selected by the Creative Text team from your submissions:

"If a tree falls in the forest, I hear it." 968 20%
Its blood is life, its body is growth. 634 13%
The grass is meaner on the other side. 617 13%
It reaps what you sow. 600 12%
Worry about being overgrown, not overrun. 593 12%
It gives you a warm, thorny feeling inside. 414 10%
The last limb of the evolutionary tree. 326 7%
Unfettered growth with unmatched power. 299 6%
Leaves like knives, bark like steel. 211 4%
In its hands, mana is as hard as steel. 165 3%
Total 4827 100%

Step #24 – Flavor Text Run-off

And the last run-off. I believe this is the only run-off that produced a different outcome than the original vote. I guess the pun-lovers were split:

Its blood is life, its body is growth. 1784 36%
"If a tree falls in the forest, I hear it." 1664 34%
The grass is meaner on the other side. 1455 30%
Total 4903 100%

The Big Picture

As we were wrapping up the flavor text votes, Mark Tedin was wrapping up his work on the art for Forgotten Ancient. The card at the top shows what it looks like in the frame, but that's not nearly as impressive as the full piece:

(Con)Templating Babycakes

In an effort to make the card more intuitive, the Editing department changed the wording of the card around slightly without altering the card's functionality. It now reads:

"Whenever a player plays a spell, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Forgotten Ancient.
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may move any number of +1/+1 counters from Forgotten Ancient onto other creatures."

Under both wordings, you move the counters on the ability's resolution; you don't have to say if you're moving counters or how many counters you are moving when the ability triggers. But the new wording helps alleviate some concern about moving all the counters off of a damaged or weakened Forgotten Ancient. Let's say there was an enchantment in play that said "All green creatures get -3/-3." When you resolve Forgotten Ancient using the original wording, you remove all the counters at once, with the option of putting some of them back on. So, during the resolution of the effect, there is a short period of time where the Ancient would be -3/0. Granted, it doesn't die under those circumstances, since state-based effects aren't checked in the middle of an effect's resolution; if you put one counter back on him, he survives. But that concept can be confusing, so the new wording indicates that the counters you chose to leave on the Ancient never actually come off.

But Wait, There’s More

The first “You Make the Card” was a great success. So much so that we’ve asked and were given permission to hold a second “You Make the Card.” We’ll be starting in the not too distant future, so stay tuned to for your second chance to make your very own Magic card.

I’d like to end by thanking everyone who took the time to participate. “You Make the Card” was a revolutionary step in the advancement of player involvement. You have designed an excellent card. I’m excited for it to release next year so you will get a chance to see your card in action.

And with that, we officially end the first “You Make the Card”. Congratulations! You guys did a great job.

Mark Rosewater

Send questions and comments to

Latest Feature Articles


June 24, 2022

Double Masters 2022 Release Notes by, Jess Dunks

Compiled by Jess Dunks Document last modified April 4, 2022 PDF Download Links:English | 中国话,汉语;中文 | Français | Deutsch | 日本語 The Release Notes include information concerning the relea...

Learn More


June 17, 2022

Social Play Opportunities in D&D and Magic: The Gathering by, Wizards of the Coast

We're back, following our third and final Office Hours for the Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate set. We recently welcomed our final set of guests, Game Designer Ellie Rice, Sen...

Learn More



Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All