Now I know what you might be thinking from seeing Makoto Naegi on the thumbnail instead of the Tortollan Pilgrim that you see on all the others, as well as the fact that this article is written by me instead of ShadowsOfSense. Which is that I'm NOT ShadowsOfSense. To which I say… you are correct. ShadowsOfSense took over for me a few days ago on the Fan Community Spotlight (which you will see shortly below), and now, I wanted to return the favor and take over Card Design Conversation this week. A bit of a role reversal.
Conversation this week takes a bit of a strange, but fun turn. Don't panic though because we will be back in our usual spots for next week. The next Fan Community Spotlight is actually going to be something VERY significant.
Now isn't this quite a surprise. This time around, we've got ourselves another tie.
First, we congratulate Grumpymonk achieving their fourth win this season with their Chief Recruiter Sally.
But we also have to give another congratulations to DavnanKillder for their Myra, Death's Genius.
As with the last tie, they will both have contributions to the prompt for next week, so stick around for that.
Houston, We Have a Problem
This week on Fan Community Spotlight, we went FAR outside our usual zone leaving Azeroth's orbit and into outer space in an expansion designed by a huge group of people, Liftoff. This is a set theme that isn't unheard of for fan-made card sets, but it is one that doesn't get utilized too often, making it a very interesting change of scenery. There are new ways to explore the stars with not one, but two new keywords, Launch and Observe. Launch is a one-time effect (akin to Spellburst) which triggers when a minion with Launch attacks, but before the attack fully connects. Observe is a mechanic that looks at 3 cards (similar to Discover) in your deck within a specified set of parameters and you choose one of those cards to put on top of your deck.
This set was very fun for me to design with all the people involved. Making space-themed cards was a pretty fun take on the typical expansion formula, and the two new keywords serve as two different ways to capture the flavor of being in outer space. I made a total of 37 of the 147 cards for the set, and here are a few of them that I made that appeared in the interview.
As mentioned before, ShadowsOfSense took over for me on this one. I was part of the design process of the set, and interviewing everyone else wouldn't make sense when I know everything that went on. A total of 17 people helped make this project a reality, although because interviewing that many people would be a bit ridiculous, it was narrowed down to 5 people who were interested in being interviewed. 5 people is already a lot anyway. It's a really interesting read if I say so myself, so be sure to check out the full interview in the link above.
Being part of a project with several other people working is a very interesting experience. You get to see several different perspectives on both general card design, as well as design specific for the set. If you get the opportunity to do so, then I would recommend it.
Normally when we talk about fan-made cards on the site, it's always about Hearthstone. Some of you guys may not have even noticed that these forum sections exist, but we have a section on the forums for Custom Magic and Custom Runeterra. While the Custom Hearthstone section gets used fairly regularly for the most part, the other two sections see next to no use at all. After over a full year, I still have the only Custom Magic post on this entire website. Why is this exactly? Is it because Hearthstone still happens to be what most of our audience is built on? Or is this because the communities for fan-made Magic and fan-made Runeterra cards is not as prominent? Or perhaps a combination of the two
When making custom Magic cards, the most well-known method is Magic Set Editor (or MSE as it is often referred to as). I myself have never used the software before, but most people I know who have said that it's really good. There is one thing about MSE that might be a turn-off for some people though: It requires downloads and several at that to keep it in date. This won't be a big deal for some, but others might prefer a simpler online approach to making their Magic cards. Online sites where you can make Magic cards do exist, but are often very hit or miss, with many of them having some amount of problems. A few weeks ago, someone on the r/customhearthstone Discord server by the name of Coolboypai sent me a link to Card Conjurer. Although it is slightly cumbersome to use, it is probably the most well put together version of custom Magic I've ever seen. MTG.Design gets quite a bit of use in the community, although a problem with it is that you can't move the artwork around. Or at least, I haven't found out how. This seems to be the best way to make MTG cards for the time being if you don't want to go through with the downloads of MSE. This is a card design I've made in Card Conjurer that links up to the next thing I want to talk about regarding custom magic.
A set that I tried making a year ago, but never finished was Pinnacle of the Multiverse. To this day, it is still the only post on the Custom Magic forum, but perhaps that can change? When I started making this set, my vision was that this was the land that the multiverse started, a far away land that basically serves as the very beginning of the entire MTG world. I envisioned a world full of mana, thus I landed on building around mana as a main theme of the set. I wanted to make a mechanic all about mana, which is where I initially made Pinnacle. Originally, it was paying an additional cost to activate an ability although I later discovered that this already exists in the form of Kicker. At this point, I changed Pinnacle to be based on CMC and if you paid for a card's CMC with a specific combination of mana, you would get a bonus. I liked this ability because it could be used to encourage mono-colored or multi-colored play all in one mechanic. I was partially inspired by Adamant as I started making this set around the time Throne of Eldraine was being revealed. These following cards were all made on mCardstock, which was a pretty solid online MTG card maker, although it seems to have gone offline.
One thing I tried making in this set was a mechanic granting a bonus if you control no untapped lands (which I referred to as "tapped out"). This mechanic actually exists in Prophecy (a set released in June of 2000), but I nonetheless thought it was a neat mechanic that fit the theme of the set well. This mechanic I used on cards like Optical Illusionist (which you saw above), Protector of the Circle or Giant of the Grove.
There happened to be a slight problem with this mechanic which is that you can technically tap all of your lands whenever you want and not use the mana you get from them. This doesn't sound like a problem for Optical Illusionist, but it seems like it could be for Protector of the Circle, and definitely problematic for Giant of the Grove.
The main cycle I tried to make for the set was the "creator" Dragons, which are a set of five dragons (one for each color) which are each 6/6 in stats, cost 6 mana of that color (essentially encouraging you to use them for mono-color decks). Each also has flying, allows you to tap lands of your color for 2 mana instead of 1, and grants creatures a mechanic associated with that color. Lorewise, these dragons were meant to be the creators of the lands associated with the lands their respective color uses to tap for mana.
Alongside that were a set of Legendary Lands which enter the battlefield tapped unless you control the respective "creator" Dragon which goes with that land. All the lands make your cards of their respective color uncounterable and cannot be responded to by all other players. Lorewise, they represent the first said landscapes that the dragons made and are said to contain mana beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
As this was the first time I ever tried to make a Magic set, the balance is obviously not going to be great and I probably broke some color identities too egregiously. But if you want to look at the set for yourself, you can look at it here. Perhaps in 2021, it will no longer be the only post in the Custom Magic forum?
As for fan-made Runeterra cards? Such a community exists, but how do you make the cards. A long time ago, lorcardmaker was a site that was available to use although it seems to have gone completely down. Although let's be honest, it was never that good anyway because it was never really intended to be. The best online version I've found seems to be this one made in Unity which even allows you to make your own keywords. Here is the first custom Runeterra card I ever made redone using this maker.
The only fan-made Runeterra expansion ever attempted on this website comes from Shivershine, who started making Sins Unleashed closer to the beginning of the year. Although there aren't very many cards that were made for it, there are still a few, namely in Shadow Isles. Here are some of them. These cards were made in lorcardmaker, hence why they look a little bit weird. We had even more limited options at the time now than we did back then.
As Fan Community Spotlight has so far exclusively focused on Hearthstone sets, I do want to state that FCS was never intended to be a Hearthstone-exclusive series. If there are good fan-made set for Magic: The Gathering or Legends of Runeterra on this website, then I would happily interview their creators and feature them here. Will 2021 be the year where we have our first non-Hearthstone FCS? Maybe. If you feel like you want to try making your own expansion for MTG or LoR, then by all means, go for it!
Prepare for Trouble! Make it Double!
In addition to the fact that we have two winners this week, we also have two new comps this week. Celebrating Winter Veil is Secret Santa Snowdown where, just like the Hallow's End comp, you have three different ways you can tackle it.
And of course, we also have our regular WCDC this week, When Worlds Collide. Is it a reference to SpongeBob or Powerman 5000? Nobody knows.
In this comp, you are tasked with taking two set-exclusive keywords from different sets and making into one card. Despite their appearance in Galakrond's Awakening, Reborn and Twinspell do count.