Designer's Gauntlet [Week 2] - It's the Cycle of Life

The Basics:

5 weeks, 5 challenges, participate in as many or as few as you'd like! Prizes are awarded at the end of each week and the 'Smith with the highest cumulative total score will claim the title of Designer's Gauntlet Champion.

We have a top-secret in-house grading system but points are awarded each week based on placement as follows:

1st - 20 points, 2nd - 16 points, 3rd - 12 points, 4th - 10 points
5th - 8 points, 6th - 7 points, 7th - 6 points, 8th - 5 points

Each other participant gets 3 points just for playing. Additionally, those who aren't currently in the top 8 are eligible to receive additional points from bonus challenges. This week, the bonus is worth 2 additional points.

This Week's Philosophy:
Who doesn't enjoy scaling power? Connecting cards in theme and function has long been a taxing task for designers and cycles (linked sets of cards) have been a great way to explore options. Cycles come in several forms, though most broadly they're grouped as either Horizontal or Vertical. A Horizontal cycle is one that is typically represented by a card in each color (think the Blighted lands from BFZ or the keyword-counter-cyclers from IKO) while a Vertical cycle looks to amp up a card's function across multiple rarities.

With that in mind, rarity shouldn't always equate to power. Rarity is best used as a measure of complexity and impact. Sometimes impact is power, but the most interesting cards use the flexibility of their rarity to engage with the game in unique, meaningful ways. You have more "knobs" at your disposal at higher rarity - see if you can express development beyond simply increasing damage dealt or cards drawn (unless that modifies your function of course!).

This Week's Challenge:
Design a Vertical Cycle of three cards. There are no limits on what type your cycle must be, but permanents have historically been the most accessible. A few restrictions and a bonus:
  • You must design a common, an uncommon, and a rare
  • Your cards must be newly created for this contest (no old cards)
  • Bonus (for those not currently in the top 8) - design the Mythic Rare for your cycle

Submissions are due on Saturday, July 25th at 8pm CST. Late entries will not be accepted.

Some helpful links:
2017 Mechanical Color Pie
MTG Wiki: Vertical Cycle


  • In the examples of Vertical cycles provided in the link, they share a color. Is that recommended/required for our designs, @DomriKade and @LuckyLooter?
  • Oh boy. Cycles are not my strongest suit. :P 
  • I had this concept I wanted to try but it revolves around the Adventure mechanic so I can't make it on MTGCardmsith, is that ok? 

    The idea is to have a cycle of cards, the Voyagers, that affect the game while they are on an adventure. Here they are: 

  • @ningyounk I absolutely LOVE your designs!!
  • edited July 22
    Mine revolves around big steps, with little things like gaining 1 life upping some creatures abilities and such. 

    I put the mythic in because I didn't make top 8 last time.

  • Oh jeez, @ningyounk, that's cool!
  • edited July 20
    Adventure spells only exist on the stack. In all other zones, the characteristics of an adventure are ignored; only the characteristics of the creature card apply.

    It's a really cool design, but I don't know how it would apply.
  • @CassZero The term 'on an adventure' is for when you cast the adventure spell and the creature is in exile because of that.
  • @shadow123
    Thank you. I couldn't find a breach in the rule. I may have misinterpreted it, but it wouldn't work the same way. Maybe this description has to be on the other side of the card?
  • @Ranshi Typically the cards in a vertical cycle do share a color (or colors), so I'd recommend that as your baseline. That said, if you believe you can justify different colors in your cycle, go for it!
    In short, recommended but not required.
  • tookie1 @Ranshi

    Thank you! =D


    I know it's a little weird but I believe it still works, because it's an instant/sorcery spell it's basically like a "until end of turn" ability where you forgot the "until end of turn part". While the rules text itself does cease to exist once the card leaves the stack, I believe the ability is still ongoing indefinitely. I might be wrong though, in that case yeah, the solution is to put the text on the creature side ^^
  • @DomriKade I'm not in the top 8 am I? fine then. Here are the bloody cards of mine, boss. image image image image
  • @Fallen_Lord_Vulganos
    For the first one, it automatically has a devotion greater than 1
  • @MTG_Sappy no it doesn't, it automatically has a devotion of 1, which isn't greater than 1
  • Here is my vertical cycle:

    Night Roamer Fae

    Night Prowler Fae

    Night Invader Fae

    Each of the creatures share a card type/creature type and start out with the word Night, and each have a theme of a type of "can't be blocked." This is my first time participating, not sure if I did this correctly or not, but I hope this suffices, as there are amazing entries in this contest already. :)
  • Another challenger enters the ring... this one is gonna be tough...
  • Sorry i'm joining this late, but hey, i thought i'd be fun. Here are my things-

    Crestfallen SoldierWeary WarriorProud KnightGreat Hero
  • edited July 21
    I'm also going to enter, but I'm struggling to find new Noggle art ... and I'm scared to do any more Google searches for "anthropomorphic donkeys" because ... um ... fur real? :wink:
  • Gonna try this in a little bit.
  • edited July 22
    @DomriKade Could we use one old card and create two new cards to make our vertical cycle?
  • @TerryTags
    Noggle art is notoriously difficult to find.

  • Here's to hoping y'all like it!
  • edited July 22
    My Vertical Minotaur Tribute Cycle:
    Each "level" adds one keyword and subtype while reducing the cost by {1}. They all have tribute and {r}{r} in their mana costs. They are potentially scary, but should be reasonably balanced and fun designs. Thanks!
  • I just realized i forgot to credit ANY of the artists on my cards- and major goof! I'll be fixing that right away. Hope its not a problem! I can re-upload the fixed cards later if you want
  • @Volos @DomriKade shoot, I just realized that I forgot to artist credit on two of mine as well. I'll try and find them.
  • edited July 22

    They're artificers who are trying to ... re-invent ... the ... "Wheel."
    Get it? [groan]
  • I will have limited access to the internet for a few more days, so I might need more time.
  • Here's my vertical cycle! The theme evidently being "Choose" instants. I figured I'd create a sort of story with the progression, I hope you all enjoy!
    image image image
  • edited July 23
    I wanted quick darting little faerie equipment.  :) I hope you guys like em cuz faeries are super cool. (I wanted the equipment to be movable.)
  • My entries delve into new design space by taking the unnamed “accumulated” mechanic famously used on Accumulated Knowledge and most recently used on Frantic Inventory and applying it to a vertical cycle by making each member of the vertical cycle have an effect that scales only with the amount of the COMMON member in your graveyard. I think this innovation provides depth by creating a unique limited archetype centered around the common/uncommon members that will sometimes include the rare.  

    The common member of the cycle creates hasty tokens. The first one is below par, the second is about right, and any subsequent copies are significantly above rate.  This card can play as a “catch-em-all” build around on its own but is bolstered as a legitimate archetype supported only by the vertical cycle by the next card.

    Revolt of the peasants is a bit weak on its own but is slightly above par with only one Rise of the Peasants and very strong with more than two. This is the real payoff for this limited archetype and represents Act II of the story shown on the cards.

    The final member of the cycle concludes the story and, if the drafter is lucky, acts as both a solid value engine and a finisher for the limited archetype. It can ping the opponent for the last few points of damage if the player didn’t quite get finish the game with peasant tokens and/or pull them ahead on cards so they can win by other means.  One cool thing about this design is that it is quite playable without any dependence on Rise of the Peasants and can be played effectively in decks without it.
Sign In or Register to comment.