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I’ve been getting back into my game engine again.  Shawn Kendall, one of the owners of ZG, has been kind enough to provide me with some tips and pointers for engine design.  Shawn is an incredibly learned man in this subject and used to teach game engine design at Full Sail U here in Florida.  Naturally, this has been an amazing opportunity which I plan to continue to leverage as much as possible.  In any case, the basics of the engine are pretty much planned out by now and I will probably be uploading the images of that sometime soon.  It’s been a lot of work and slow going, but it will be pretty awesome to have an engine of my own to dork around with and gain experience from.

On to the title of this post: the people at the ZG office **LOVE** Magic: The Gathering.  They play pretty much every Friday night, sparsely during the week, and sometimes even during breaks.  They are constantly talking about the new sets that are coming out, the recent deck they built to best so-and-so, and how broken certain cards are.  Me?  I like Magic, but I probably won’t ever get to the level of devotion that these guys have.

However, I have found that MTG is a very solid, well built, and fascinating game.  Since my time this summer has been almost exclusively *coding* games, I figure flexing my design and balancing skills is just as important.  I think Magic is a great place to start with that, so I have come up with a few card concepts that I would love to have feedback about.  I will hopefully be churning out more card concepts over the summer, but we’ll start with these:

Spiteful Visions:  2 Black                                      – Common


Target player discards 2 cards and draws a card.


“Forgetting is as much of a blessing as a curse.” -Iithes

Slash and Burn:  3 Red, 2 Colorless                   – Uncommon


Destroy target green permanent or target basic land unless it’s controller pays 3 Life.

“Take a life to save a life?  Sounds like a fair trade.”

Thriving Sapsire:  5 Green                                    – Rare

Creature – Saproling Ancient


Put a -1/-1 counter on Thriving Sapsire: put two 1/1 Saproling tokens onto the battlefield.

When Thriving Sapsire is placed in a graveyard, put two 1/1 Saproling token onto the battlefield.

Creatures of the forest never die, they simply get smaller.

Inspired Flight:  2 Blue, 2 White                        – Common


Enchant Creature

Enchanted Creature gains +2/+3 and has flying.  Place a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature.  When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard it’s controller gains Life equal to the number of -1/-1 counters on enchanted creature.

“The best things in life might just kill you.” -Tarr’agun



    • Roucis Kyle
    • Posted June 28, 2009 at 18:49
    • Permalink

    Changed Thriving Sapsire to 5 Green, 5 for potentially 7 1/1 creatures seems a lot more reasonable.

    • Soapstarjoe
    • Posted July 1, 2009 at 14:02
    • Permalink

    Maybe, but 1/1 creatures are kinda weeny. though there’s the question of why you’d bother with a 3/3 if you could go for 7 1/1. Maybe make it a sorcery card. Or something like sliver queen: pay x (color) and get y 1/1 saplings.
    I think amnesia sounds more like a blue card. Looking forward to seeing more game engine mojo.

    • Roucis Kyle
    • Posted July 1, 2009 at 16:42
    • Permalink


    YEI a comment! Let’s see:

    Say I play the Thriving Sapsire for 5G and place 1 counter on him. I now have 2/2, 1/1, 1/1. Later, I play a Chainbreaker for 2C. I use Chainbreaker’s ability 3C, Tap: Remove -1/-1 counter from target creature, then replace that counter for another pair of 1/1 creatures…There are some potentially vicious combos you could with an ability like that. However, if chump-blocking is more your style, Thriving Sapsire is a GREAT way to get lots of creatures in play really quickly.

    Card discard and mill is generally (but no always) associated with Black. Might change it to 1K/B, 1C.

    Thanks for the feedback! Great suggestions! I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on engine developments. In the mean time, keep commenting!

    • Ryan Beitz
    • Posted July 20, 2009 at 00:40
    • Permalink

    You should play with Ryan and I, we’ve been having go’s at each other with my cards (mostly Odyssey and before).
    I have to point out though that I’ve never seen a BW card hit for 2 damage when it’s removed from play, that’s usually reserved for black or possibly red. I believe ‘flight’ gave flying for B so you are saying the +1/+1 is due to the white aspect (which is generally not a white property anyway, more like +0/+2 or something)
    Maybe opponent chooses a creature card under your control and returns it to owners hand instead?

    • Roucis Kyle
    • Posted July 20, 2009 at 17:21
    • Permalink

    Right you are! I changed Inspired Flight up to give +1/+2 flying for BW. Upon discard, it places a -1/-1 on the previously enchanted creature. Hmm, on second thought, the best way to do this would be to have Inspired Flight grant +2/+3 and place a -1/-1 token on the enchanted creature. That way, it can be removed at a later date, but could still hose you if enchantment was broken. Might have to change the cost to 2B1W for that. Let me know what you think of that. Thanks for the input! Keep it up!

    • Roucis Kyle
    • Posted August 14, 2009 at 16:11
    • Permalink

    Got some advice from Chris Oltyan and Andy Sage, Oltyan being my manager at ZG and Sage being another intern, regarding my card builds. With their tutelage the following changes have been made:

    Amnesia has been changed from 1K1C to 2K and it’s name has been changed to Spiteful Visions. This is because 2 Black roots it in that color, and the ability to conspire is pretty solid for a card like that, which can be used to give a player with no cards in their hand relatively free card draw.

    Slash and Burn’s effect has been changed from destroy target green creature to Destroy target green creature or any basic land unless that creature or land’s controller pays 3 Life.

    Thriving Sapsire has been changed to Rare, and it now generates 2 1/1 Saprolings upon destruction instead of 1. Thriving Sapsire’s flavor text will also be changing when I can think of a better line.

    Inspired Flight’s cost has been changed to 2B 2W, it’s rarity has changed to Uncommon, and it’s effect has changed from simple +2/+3 w/ -1/-1 to Enchanted Creature gains +2/+3 and has flying. Place a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature. This counter is not removed when Inspired Flight is removed from enchanted creature. When enchanted creature is placed in a graveyard, it’s controller gains Life equal to the number of -1/-1 counters on enchanted creature.

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