May 2021 - Ten Years and Counting!

Congratulations to this month's Featured Cardsmiths... @Red_Tower & @Shelko

Stay tuned for the Results of the Survey later today!

Check out the Blog post - https://mtgcardsmith.com/blog/10-years-of-cardsmith

Comments

  • edited May 12

    We promised the results of our survey and here they are!

    Our question was, "When you create a card, what's your thought process?"

    Here are your answers!


    To design a Magic card is to add yet another piece to a sprawling game. How would this card contribute to Magic as a whole? What kind of interactions would it prompt inside of a game? Would this card make the game a fun one?

    These are all very important questions to ask myself as I design cards, as I am not a very conservative designer. I love stretching the boundaries of what Magic can offer, like creating additional battlefields, swapping cards between hands and booster packs, and giving white card advantage. I especially love Commander and Cube because they offer so much personalization on what kind of game you want to play. And I ask that question now: what kind of game do you want to play? And how does this hypothetical card, which is of course yet another piece in a sprawling game, help you realize this vision?


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    How it would play if it was in the actual game.

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    The biggest part of it is what I'm trying to do with a card and the inspiration for it. If it's focused on a mechanic or tribe or other specific criteria I'll usually look at a way to take that in a interesting yet true-to-form direction; usually playing up the most or least prominent aspects of that thing to highlight the greatest scope of it.

    If the focus is on something like artwork or story, I'll begin by trying to translate it best and as interestingly to Magic mechanics as I can, or otherwise finding the best "fit" for it. This can vary a lot depending on what I'm working with, but I'd generally say this is typically where a lot of my more "top-down" designs would come from.

    Making cards for a set is something that I've been doing a lot lately but really only for the first time, so there's a lot more to keep in mind as far as considering mechanics, healthy limited, draft archetypes, rarity, story, and available art, among plenty of things like filling in a set skeleton and adapting a skeleton to mesh with what the set wants to do.

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    I want to make cards that inspire people to write things, and think on cool ideas.

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    I think: what makes this card unique? Is it the amazing art? Is it the sick flavor text? Is it the crazy one liner? I also ALWAYS credit the artist

  • edited May 12

    Various. Generally, sets are roughly concepted top down. There is usually a rough story to go along with it.

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    Excepting deliberate cycles, I make individual cards one by one. Using all almost all the sources of information you wanted.

    I have a massive art database and like to browse for more. Sometimes I see an art and instantly know what the card does. Other times, I know it will be a card but have no idea what. I file it away and the back of my mind works on it. Then one day pop, it's almost written itself.

    I usually get a core idea for a card from inspiring works I come across, but sometimes I also want to make cards for artworks I find and like. Then the idea starts to get more solid form as I work on the card by adjusting the theme to match with the artwork and the contest/story. What I really like to do is to surf across art sites, find some neat artworks, then give them a story/character by creating a card from the artwork.

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    I'll start by trying to find a fitting set of abilities to what I'm trying to convey flavorfully, or vice-versa if I have interesting ability ideas. I then will move on to finding artwork usually, or if it is based off art, I brainstorm the abilities the art would have. When that is done, I will start the actual crafting, submitting it to peer review on discord. After all that, and usually 2-5 revisions, I'll finish it and make it, use it if it is for a saga, and then let it accumulate dust and coments.

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    I go from my original idea, to balancing and fleshing it out and syntaxing, then I find art, and ask others' opinions.

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    When I come up with an idea for a card, I try to actually visualize their effects like they are part of an action anime. I feel like being able to visualize a character's actions gives the card much better reasoning for its abilities rather than just giving a card some random keyword in order to make it stronger. One of my favorite cards that I've made, "Ingo, Ruthless Samurai" originally came from the idea of making a literal "Demon Slayer" (I wanted to twist the name of the anime). After finding some really good demon samurai art, I could see them cutting down allies to get power boosts, which is where I got the two activated abilities from. I think that it's best when ideas for effects feel natural, rather than doing something like shoving a wizard-like effect on a creature, just because it is a wizard.

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    Get a vague idea, find art, and try and make it work from there.

  • edited May 13

    I personally tend to find the most interesting and engaging way to create new cards to be through set design. By designing a set, I am able to direct my designs toward a single unified purpose and theme, both flavorfully and mechanically. The biggest motivation at that point is that it culminates in a draft environment that I can share with both my IRL playgroup and the MTGCS community. Furthermore, by designing sets I force myself to design a lot of cards across a lot of different rarities aimed at a lot of different player demographics (Johnnies, Timmies, Spikes, etc.). This means that I don't only focus on the cards, mechanics, and ideas I personally love, but also focus on designing a broad range of designs, which ultimately helps me improve.

    I've mentioned this before in the forums, but when people ask "How do I design good cards?" the biggest piece of advice I can give is to design a lot of cards. Practice makes perfect, after all, and it's impossible to design a slam dunk card every time. Heck, I come up with problematic designs myself all the time and I've been doing this for over five years. The important thing is that by designing a lot of cards, specifically with the aim to make the best designs you can, you'll improve over time. You'll become more familiar with MTG as a game, learn more about common design trends, and begin to tighten up your understanding of the game's wording, formatting, and central rules/mechanics. Essentially, by practicing, you're gradually developing the tools for an extensive toolbox that you can then utilize at any time for later designs. As I stated above, for me, the way I managed to get myself to design a lot of cards was to design a lot of sets, and my earliest sets were disasters. Still, though, I'm proud of myself for completing them, and the fact that I can look back on my early work and see that it's flawed shows that I've improved as a designer. For anybody looking to "design awesome cards," being able to reflect on earlier designs, and what does designs' strengths and weaknesses are, is critical to ensuring their future designs become even more awesome!

    As far as coming up with ideas and finding design inspirations, I will say my ideas for a set can come from all over the place. Most commonly, however, my set ideas stem from music, the idea of "I want this set to look and play like this song sounds." Of the nine sets I've created, six of them were either directly or partially inspired by a piece of music. Even outside of music, entertainment media is a huge inspiration for my sets. Movies like Spiderman Homecoming and games like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon have been the core inspirations for sets I'm working on right now, and oftentimes, even if a set isn't literally trying to depict a third part IP, my sets will look to capture the flavor and feel inspired by these creations. Even art can serve as an inspiration for my sets. The core basis of Eathouria as a set came from wanting a set with rares that highlighted stunning pieces of artwork--hence why all the rares and mythics in that set are full art.

    Seeing other people's creative works is inspiring, and they influence me heavily, and I encourage other card designers to find their own creative inspirations to draw from, so they can take that motivation and inspiration and design something that is truly their own. Who knows, they might even inspire creators down the line. MTGCS members such as Ranshi, Tigersol, Tomigon, Corwinnn, Gelectrode, DomriKade, Faiths_Guide, Lujikul, Shadow123, ninhyounk, and-geeze--so, *so* many others that I can't hope to give a full list all impacted me and influence be greatly, and are people who I look up to as inspirations for card design. Honestly, that's been one of the best parts about MTGCS: the community, and I think that MTGCS is one of the most naturally nurturing environments for cardsmiths that want to make awesome cards. Frankly, just by sticking around among a community of such great and dedicated creators, I believe that a new cardsmith will naturally rise up to the same level as all of the site's established amazing creators.

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    "What's the coolest thing I can do without a bunch of words?"

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    I look at the art, choose the archetypes. Scan my available options and kind of merge them into a card! Cha-ching-ching!

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    I like to create cards that I would like to play in custom cube draft. "If I add this card to the cube, would people enjoy it or not?" is always something I keep in mind. Fun, interesting, not too complex are the three most important things for my creation.

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    I like making fun cards that aren't cards you would normally see in an official Magic Pack, unless it's 3am, in which case I'm probably not thinking straight.

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    I look at the card like a piece of art. Rarely do I actually consider a format for the card to be played in, though when I do, I'm careful. But that aside, I look at the card like a painting. I want someone to feel something when they see it, or I want to express my reality through the card, while practicing game design on a micro scale for when I eventually work at wizards! (I WILL be getting there eventually.)

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    One of two things start my card making process. I've either scoured the internet for art, found I piece I enjoy, saved it and then try to create a card based on that artwork. Making both the art and card make sense within each other. Or I had an idea throughout my day of an ability or an overall card I wanted to implement. Both processes can result in well crafted cards and both can result in garbage. I haven't found a fool proof way of consistently making great cards. My improvement has mostly stemmed from being on this site for over seven years and taking feedback and criticism from my peers. The main principle however, is balance. I have always tried to maintain a consistent source of flavour for my cards, but within that foundation of balance, everything gets lost. I try to make a card once and be done with it. Not because of any reason other than it's what I enjoy. Great cards don't really exist. Well made cards and unique cards definitely do, but a great card will always be personal. Great cards that appear in MtG created by Wizards mostly are considered great because they are efficient, unbalanced for the purpose of being too powerful, or are just fun. So in that vein, creating a great card is subjective to opinion, and opinion is always at the mercy of people. I've made cards that I think are great and they'll see zero favourites and no feedback. Does that mean I'm wrong or does that mean I created the card at a slow time and nobody saw it? Hard to tell. I've also created cards that I didn't think were that good and they saw twenty plus favs and lots of praise and discussion. It's hard to pinpoint a great card. So long as you're enjoying the process and you like the card, everything else will just be gravy. At least try and stop yourself from having expectations to grand, it's a much more enjoyable process when it's fun. And from that fun, you'll probably notice a good improvement versus just forcing yourself to make cards hoping something sticks, or you'll have some breakthrough. Great stems from within. And the first step is having fun.

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    What's a cool way to use this artwork, or fulfill a contest/challenge/prompt, or create a unique ability or just interesting rules text in general.

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARDSMITH


  • lol.  If I knew about the survey I would have done it.  Also happy birthday Cardsmith I guess.
  • Particularly excellent post this month. I had a great time reading it. Glad you got so many great responses to the survey! I'm really looking forward to being able to see what everyone said in-full!
  • Happy birthday Cardsmith!!
  • Happy birthday!
  • I don't know the theme of the month, but here's a card:
    Smiths Forge
  • Happy birthday Cardsmith!
  • @TheDukeOfPork - No theme this month! I do like the card! We like to have one or two months of the year where we just relax and let people go where the wind takes them!
  • 10 years? Wow!
  • edited May 7
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  • @pstmdrn wrong thread by any chance?
  • I believe it's most assuredly the wrong thread
  • Yes! But it's a similar thread! I will find it.
  • I found the right one! It was very similar.
  • Survey responses posted above!
  • Finally reading over the survey responses, and WOW! So many great replies from people! It was awesome to read them all. Everyone here rocks, and I've been glad to be at least a small part of this massive, awesome community!
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