Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Outside View

If you're interested at all in card design, you should read what Mark Rosewater has to say. As Magic Head Designer, he knows what he's talking about. My ideas on card design are almost entirely gleaned from Rosewater's writing.

His latest article is a particularly good one. He talks about various cards and just dispenses design wisdom and it's all grand. I'd like to talk about two of these cards that have me (somewhat) on the defensive now.

Finest Hour
I was all prepared to rip this card a new one with color critique. Now I'm glad I waited. Looking at this card, I had lost the trees for forest. I was so focused on the fact that it was so similar to Relentless Assault that I didn't look at the component parts. While I still don't entirely agree with the color scheme, I understand the reasoning behind it better now. The really important thing that this reinforces is that a team of designers is better than any of those designers on his/her own.

Intimidation Bolt
I am an amateur designer, and I am keen to stress form over flavor. But I do this because I am an amateur designer. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of people making fake magic cards. There are a lot of fantastic ideas out there. And there are also a lot of terrible-looking cards. These cards look bad because their creators use strange phrases in jumbled text-boxes and hold on so hard to their flavorful ideas that they refuse to let them go when they can't find the right wordings. Many cards end up looking like something from the early days of Magic - a wonderful idea hidden behind a confusing mass of ugly text. That's why I feel the form of a fake card is so important. In almost all cases, the flavor is already there.

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