This entry is part 15 of 41 in the series In General

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric, AKA Grandpa Growth

 

When designing a game, there are a number of adjustable variables you have to consider. The exact values you choose to assign these variables ultimately influence how the game plays out and which strategies will be deemed “good/strong” or “bad/weak.” The most clear-cut example within Magic happens at the individual card level.

 

When designing a creature card, you have to assign it several of these variables, such as: mana cost, power, toughness, creature type, etc. What you choose for each of these values plays a part in determining how strong that card is relative to other comparables, which determines how often it gets used in top decks. The strength of those comparable cards determines how strong the strategic play of using creatures is.

 

Whether or not the threats are strong relative to the answers in a format ultimately determines the shape of the best deck in that environment, thereby influencing what people play. There’s an incredible amount of weight hanging on what seems like such a small decision, but the adjustable variables in card design are the key to shaping Magic’s metagame environments.

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This entry is part 16 of 41 in the series In General

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric, AKA Grandpa Growth

 

The R&D department is given the challenging task of making new cards. Part of the process is to assign costs and effects to new cards. For obvious reasons, these quantities need to be kept in balance or the game could be disrupted by broken cards like Arcbound Ravager or Stoneforge Mystic. It’s particularly challenging to balance these cards for eternal formats like Commander where there’s simply not adequate time to test all combinations of cards for a constructed deck.

 

To make this task more manageable, the team at Wizards uses benchmarks to guide them on the general power level. Over the long term, adjustments to these benchmarks can shake up player expectations and drive or retard power creep. I use my own set of power level benchmarks as a shorthand to determine whether or not I’m getting good value from the cards I’m playing. Today, I’ll share some of those standards and talk about how CMC designs influence my deck designs.

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This entry is part 17 of 41 in the series In General

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric, AKA Grandpa Growth

 

In my earlier article about Bushnell’s Law, I discussed the problems you run into when your game is difficult to learn. Design choices made in the game’s infancy have shaped the way Magic has been adopted and spread all over the world. The consequences of those decisions can’t be fully understood or quantified, but if we want to keep Magic thriving long into the future we need to use some comparative analysis to see the game through the lens of a designer. Today’s article will dive much deeper into why Magic is difficult to learn by examining a number of the game’s core features and how they add difficulty to the process of skill progression.  

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This entry is part 18 of 41 in the series In General

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric, AKA Grandpa Growth

 

This month on “In General” my articles are focusing on the topic of design in Magic. If you missed it last week, be sure to check out my article about Bushnell’s Law and simplifying the game for new players. This week, I want to specifically focus on what I call the dearth of design. These are undeveloped areas in my opinion, and I want to share a couple ideas I’d like to see take hold in the game.

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This entry is part 19 of 41 in the series In General

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric, AKA Grandpa Growth

 

All of my articles in February were devoted to multiplayer. The month of March will have a theme as well: design. The design of Magic is a tightly controlled process that includes only the bare minimum amount of people necessary to actually produce a viable product. For a game with a playerbase in the millions, it’s simply amazing that the bulk of the concept work comes from so few people; they really are the shepherds of Magic’s future.

 

Because only a handful of people work on a particular set during the design phase, the team can achieve a unity of vision and avoid the costly distractions that come from larger groups. However, it also means that some ideas will never be introduced, because they’re not the focus of the few members who are on the team. This month, I’m going to be focusing in on some key principles in game design that are not receiving proper treatment by the team that creates the game.

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This entry is part 20 of 41 in the series In General

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric, AKA Grandpa Growth

 

Matchups are incredibly important in 1-v-1 Commander. The nature of specific decklists, and even minute changes in card selection, can dramatically change the texture of a Commander matchup. A lack of familiarity with the finer points can lead to preventable losses. In the world of casual multiplayer, Commander matchups receive much less attention, but are still just as important in determining the outcome of a game.

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