Making_Magic

The Multiplay's The Thing

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The letter W!elcome to Multiplayer Week. This week we'll be exploring the wonderful world of Magic outside the safe confines of two-player play. It turns out there's a lot of ways to play Magic and some of them involve—gasp—lots of other people. In the last few years, R&D has been creating products specifically to cater to the multiplayer crowd with such products as Planechase, Archenemy, and future exciting, but not yet announced things.

While the design of these products are interesting stories, I've decided instead to write about how we try to imbue everyday Magic sets with something for the multiplayer crowd. What follows are numerous things we can do or be aware of to try and make cards in our normal tournament-legal sets more multiplayer friendly.

Before I explain some of our multiplayer friendly tools, let me begin by mentioning an unspoken rule we have for our "normal" cards: All cards must make sense in a two-player game. This isn't to say the card has to be optimized for two-player play just that it makes sense—that is, it actually does something. Magic, at it's core, is a two-player game and we make sure that every card that comes out of a booster pack works in that environment. With that out of the way, let's dive in.

Here's how I'm going to do this. I'm going to show you a card (some of which actually exist and some of which do not) and then ask if you can think of a way to make it more multiplayer friendly. Note that I'm not trying to majorly change the effect of the card, just tweak it slightly to improve it for multiplayer play.

Card #1


Divination
2 Mana Blue Mana
Sorcery
Draw two cards.

Okay, what do we do to this card to make it more multiplayer friendly?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #2


Day of Judgment
2 Mana White Mana White Mana
Sorcery
Destroy all creatures.

What can you change about this card to make it better for multiplayer play?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #3


Apply Knowledge
2 Mana Blue Mana
Instant
Draw a card for each spell you cast this turn.

What can you do to make this more multiplayer friendly?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #4


Mind Rot
2 Mana Black Mana
Sorcery
Target opponent discards two cards.

What could you do to this card to make it more multiplayer friendly?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #5


Congregate
3 Mana White Mana
Instant
Target player gains 2 life for each creature on the battlefield.

What can you do to it to improve it for multiplayer play?

Wait, you say. Wasn't this card designed to be for multiplayer play? It was, but we've learned a valuable lesson from it. What is that lesson?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #6


Blow 'Em Up
2 Mana Black Mana Black Mana
Sorcery
Destroy two nonblack creatures.

Here's a card that hasn't quite existed before (although Reckless Spite and Wicked Pact come close). What would you do to this card to make it better for multiplayer play?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #7


Rot Away
Green Mana
Instant
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. You lose life equal to its converted mana cost.

What do we do to make this more multiplayer friendly?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #8


Magical Experience
3 Mana Blue Mana
Enchantment
Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay 2 Mana. If you do, draw a card.

What do you do with this card?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #9


Big Beastie
4 Mana Green Mana Green Mana
Creature – Beast
Shroud, trample
6/6

Let's try a French vanilla creature (R&D-speak for a creature with only basic creature keywords). How do you tweak this for multiplayer play?

Click here to see the answer.

Card #10


Lava Axe
4 Mana Red Mana
Sorcery
Lava Axe deals 5 damage to target player.

What tweak do you make to this card?

Click here to see the answer.

Multiplay it Again, Sam

Today's column was not designed as an ultimate list of ways to improve cards for multiplayer games. It was merely a chance for me to demonstrate many of the kinds of things you need to think about. One of the joys and pains of designing Magic is that you are really making many different games and each audience values different things. To improve as a designer you have to get a better understanding of what makes each type of game tick so that you can give those players things that matter to them in their games.

As always, I'm curious for your feedback in the thread, my email or on Twitter (@maro254). In particular, I'm curious to hear from fans of multiplayer formats. What suggestions do you have for us to make better cards for your format? I very much want to know.

Join me next week when I'll have part 2 of my "How" mailbag article. Check out Part 1 from last week.

Until then, may you keep the peace while everyone else kills each other. (I mean that solely in game play.)

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