Do you playtest as you design?

This is just a question I had while chatting with some fellow cardsmiths on various designs, some of mine and some of other smiths. Basically does anybody test their cards while they're designing them and tweak accordingly or, like me, do most people design in a vacuum? I tend to try and find synonyms on Gatherer and do my best to work out where the balance should be but, as everyone knows, I can be wildly off the mark in both directions, UP or OP. (All hail the edit function)

What are your thoughts about designing in a vacuum? Linked to that, how about giving advice and feedback to other people in a vacuum, so to speak.

I'm not sure if this has already been discussed (it probably has) but I was just curious about your thoughts on whether you playtest, to what extent and how you go about trying to theoretically balance a card both when designing your own and trying to help other people.


  • I know that I will sometimes test cards on and I know @Tomigon does as well, and we often will playtest together to see how the cards interact. Usually they need a small tweak or two (or 14)
    It definitely helps a lot, because the vacuum is all theoretical, and once you involve interaction, you see where randomness and design dynamics ruin all of your theories.
  • I craft purely in a vacuum, using other cards to determine a relative power level. Obviously this doesn't work when delving into an unexplored area, but I'm usually too lazy to play test.
  • edited January 2017
    I actually play custom cards with real cards and do cube draft. So I need to do play test. We don't like it if custom cards always rule the entire game. lol

    I paste white paper on real card(I use splay glue). And insert it in sleeve. Even if it is shuffled into real decks, I don't know where it is!

    Recently I use I make a deck with CS17 cards and insert placeholder for the card I want to test.
    That's why I make CS17set cards as realistic/balanced as possible.

    Playing custom cards is a blast of fun!
    If we want to play with cardsmith community members;

    If I play in real, I print card image in high quality, and use spray glue trick as well. I made tutorial cards for that too, but they were purged.
  • I have a few tabs open with gatherer to find out similar cards and rulings, but otherwise no.
  • All mine are designed to play together, but my custom banning mechanic takes care of any power-level concerns. Lose a game, ban a card, grab a new deck, play continues.
  • @Tomigon

    Yeah, I imagine untap is super useful. So when you started playing with everyone's custom cards did you generally find that they were balanced in practice or did most of them need changing? Have you ever seen a card here that you thought was balanced, put it into the CS17 set and then realised it was totally busted when you actually played with it?
  • edited January 2017
    There was a Tournament before, and that was my first Untap experience. I built Angry Faerie deck, and I found many op cards. If I would help recreating the set, I think I want to fix 70% of cards in the set.. That's a fun set though! Ideas in the set is amazing!

    And yeah, I found many cards that are way more op than I thought after testing:
    and many other! :D. lol

    Some of them are fixed and stay in CS17set, (Your Mangled Prowler is also one of them:, but there are also many cards that I removed from the set, because I'm tired of fixing them.
  • edited January 2017
    I fixed @Corwinnn the Planeswalker like a million times, but he is still surviving in the set!
  • 70%! That's interesting. I think that definitely shows the difficulty of theoretical design. But, yeah, it's great to see so many awesome ideas and concepts.

    (Also, try as we might, I don't think anyone will ever be able to fix @Corwinnn )

  • If one of you could just explain that to Mrs. Corwinnn, I would appreciate it!
  • I design many similar concept cards and playtest them all before I finalize my design.
  • @Animist
    I certainly should test, but I don't have time to both design and test (especially to just redesign afterwards).
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