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Author Topic: The Lex Cube Card Creation Project  (Read 4604 times)

Esterdi (Naconecinii Tudor)

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The Lex Cube Card Creation Project
« on: March 02, 2016, 23:37:08 »

Hello, MTG Iasi community! Did you ever feel like we're one big family, but lack something that is truly our own, truly representative of our player base?

Well, wonder no more. We are excited to announce our new project - the Lex Cube!
Whether you know it or not, our store has a cube. Unfortunately, we didn’t have many opportunities to draft it since it was constructed; thus, it lingered in obscurity. But everything shall change with the Lex Cube initiative! Not only do we plan on organising cube drafts a bare minimum of once every two months from this point onward, but we will also cooperate in creating new, custom card designs for the Lex Cube.

But first, some data on the cube:
It is small (exactly 360 cards), true singleton (all cards are unique), peasant (contains only commons and uncommons). Most cards therein originate from the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block, plus some additions from core sets, original Zendikar block and Theros. The cube is built to support monocolor and two color decks, although not all two color combinations have perfectly defined archetypes. As the cube evolves, as we gather stats about cards and switch them around, we still want to keep it small, true singleton, and peasant, but everything else is liable to change.

Now, let's get to the meat of it. How can you guys get to design cards for the cube?
Well, by coming to events, of course! You can receive up to one point every week for attending events in that particular week. Attending multiple events in the same week doesn't stack up points, but I recommend you do it anyway, because Magic is fun! Whenever a person accrues a multiple of 4 points (4, 8, 12, 16, etc), he or she may propose an original card design for the cube. Naturally, before that card gets added in, it will be reviewed by a "Development" team made up of our judges: Mihai, Danut, Stefan and Tudor (whenever one of us hits a multiple of four point total, the "Development" team will be made up of the remaining three). For every third submission, you may design either a common or an uncommon. For the rest, you may submit just commons.

Here are some guidelines on what we are looking for in an original card submission:*

1. Balance

This is one of the categories that has the most wiggle room, as we are willing to go quite a bit above the curve. Cube is, after all, the place where the best of the best cards reside! (even when it's Peasant). Sure, you probably shouldn't propose a 2 mana 4/4 that draws three cards when it enters the battlefield, but we draw the line very highly. Here is a pretty effective rule of thumb for your design: Is your card better at what it does than every single unbanned and similar common or uncommon in Modern? If the answer to that is "No" then, more often than not, your design will pass unaltered as far as power level is concerned.

Short note: In normal sets, it is customary to design uncommons to be, on average, higher power level than the commons, since they have a lower probability of showing up. In a small true singleton cube, however, all cards have the exact same probability of being drafted (100%) so the balance discrepancy between common and uncommon need not exist. The only difference there is a complexity one. (See 3. Complexity)

2. Viability

Using mtgsalvation's definition from their monthly card design contests, "Viability" is the extent to which your card fits the color pie. The color pie is an important part of Magic, not only defining its lore and identity, but also by making each color unique from a gameplay point of view, by endowing strengths and weaknesses to every single color. Only blue routinely gets counterspells, green almost never gets flying creatures, black and red cannot interact with enchantments; the list goes on. This is a category that we care very much about, and our standards here will be pretty strict.

Short note: A common misconception is that a card's position in the color pie stems from the colors of the card. This is inaccurate. The most important aspect for a card's viability is the colors of mana required to cast it/activate its abilities. Example one: a monogreen creature that summons a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying when it enters the battlefield, despite the fact that token creation is a green dominated mechanic and flying is a white primary keyword, is still unviable, because you've achieved flying without expending white mana. Example two: a red/white all hybrid mana creature with haste and lifelink, despite the fact that haste is a red primary keyword and lifelink is a white primary keyword, is still unviable, because you can spend mana of just one of the colors to cast it.

3. Complexity

Since NWO kicked in (recommended reading: here) Magic has tried keeping uncommon designs clean and simple, and common designs even simpler than that. Here are some pointers for keeping the complexity of your design within manageable parameters:

i. Card text length. Obviously, the more of a wall-o'-text your card is, the more complex it becomes. One thing to keep in mind here is that all commons and uncommons printed in current sets have non-evergreen keywords explained in parentheses on the card, so please account for that in card length. A general rule of thumb is to stay below 300 characters (one Oblivion Ring-and-a-half).
ii. Tracking. If a permanent asks you to actively keep track of an aspect of the board state, that deserves complexity points in and of itself, and if it's a common, should do little else. Examples: A creature that is an */*, with * being the number of cards in an opponent's hand/cards of a certain type in a graveyard, a spell whose effect is dependent on board variables on resolution, a creature that cannot be cast during the first X turns of the game, triggers in the form of "when this enters the battlefield, if you control an X, do Y" etc.
iii. Particular mechanics. These mechanics are complex in and of themselves, and should be avoided at common and somewhat even at uncommon: taking extra turns, swapping permanents, protection from <something that is not a color>, stack manipulation (ending the turn, changing stack order, having abilities while on the stack), auras that enchant players instead of permanents. Use those with care and sparingly.
iv. Tertiary mechanics. If a color can use a mechanic but does so very rarely, it should be avoided at common. Examples: green and haste, red and flying, black and mana creation.
v. Phasing and Banding. These keywords deserve an entry just for themselves. Please... just don't.

4. RNG

While randomness based cards have been a quirk of Magic since its inception, ranging from the utterly casual and Johnny-esque (Ruhan of the Fomori, Possibility Storm) to the very competitive (Shardless Agent, Hymn to Tourach), if you wish to submit a randomness-based design, please don't make the worst case scenario and best case scenario too far apart. Yes, a two mana 2/2 with "T: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, target player loses the game. If you don't, you lose the game." is technically and statistically speaking balanced, but it is completely unfun to play with or against.

5. Flavor

The flavor of a card is represented in its name, creature types if it's a creature and flavor text. Because we want the cards you design to have the feel of their creators, we are willing to let you pretty much do whatever you want here. A mono white undead octopus mutant named Karl? Sure. The only requirement is that you do not post flavor text (or lengthy flavor text, anyway) for cards that already have a lot of rules text. It simply wouldn't fit.

6. Wording

While this category may seem nitpicky, it is better for the game in the long run if we stick to established templates and cards are worded in consistently similar ways. For example, please use "Creatures get +X/+X." instead of "Creatures have +X/+X." for anthems and anthem-like effects. In the case that the intent of the card is not directly obvious from the way it is worded, we will just ask. The best bet is to look up cards on Gatherer with similar functionality and use their Oracle text as a guideline.

7. Artwork

While you are not required to submit an artwork with your design, it would be helpful and would save time for you to do so. Make sure to take notice of any copyrights surrounding the artwork.

8. Current cube archetypes

This is entirely unimportant. You do not need to design for the cube as it is. If you had to, it wouldn't be a true Lex Cube anymore. Instead, design whatever you like, and, in time, we will replace the real cards from the cube to work better with the custom ones (which we'll always keep around, and eventually split off into other cubes if need be).

9. Card types

You may design cards of any type, with two major exceptions:
i. Planeswalkers, since they're never common or uncommon.
ii. Lands, particularly colored mana producing lands or lands with colored activated abilities, as their presence creates asymmetries between the colors when they're not in a cycle. However, feel free to save up on multiple designs or collaborate with others to submit land cycles all at once.

When we review a card, we will either take it as is, print it out and plaster it onto a Forest, or, if we feel like it cannot be added in its current form, we will work alongside the creator to bring it to a printable version.
This is our current list of custom cards, alongside their creators:

*we reserve the right to change these rules as the project develops, but have no clear plans to do so in the foreseeable future

Mihai Alexandru Bîrsan

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Re: The Lex Cube Card Creation Project
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2016, 08:47:11 »

Congrats on putting this together, Tudor! I'm looking forward to scheduling the Cube more often.

Esterdi (Naconecinii Tudor)

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Re: The Lex Cube Card Creation Project
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2016, 23:02:22 »

This post is reserved for a tally of everyone's points.

Cosmin B 4
Cornel P 4
Tudor N 4
Stefan S 2
Cezar S 3
George T 3
Demi S 4
Andrei S 1
Andrei 1
Radu 2
Mihai B 1
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 17:21:49 by Esterdi (Naconecinii Tudor) »

Esterdi (Naconecinii Tudor)

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Re: The Lex Cube Card Creation Project
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2016, 17:22:52 »

This post is reserved for a list of the people who may currently propose cards:

Cosmin B (one common)
Cornel P (one common)
Tudor N (one common)
Demi S (one common)

People may PM me with card suggestions on this forum.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 07:34:42 by Esterdi (Naconecinii Tudor) »
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