Cardsmith Blog

A Welcome Journey

2021 Is Upon Us!

Welcome to the first step in our Journey Ahead. We're looking forward to a brand new year, filled with changes and possibilities all around us! In honor of that, our first Theme of the Month for 2021 will be cards with the word Journey in their name. Post your cards in the January thread on the Forums. We'll be selecting a few of them to be featured as well.

Something New

Speaking of Features, you may have noticed something new last month if you're a fan of the Mystery Box Challenges. The Mystery Box Feature.

Every month you have a chance to win this magical prize and pick a card of your choice to be featured, and all you have to do is participate in one of the most popular threads on the forums!

How to Critique other Cardsmiths

One of our most favorite Cardsmiths was kind enough to dedicate her entire monthly blog to Designing With Kindness. We wanted to follow up on that with some advice on how to critique others in ways that you may not have thought of before. The first method of critiquing that I wanted to highlight is the one used by Master Cardsmith Tomigon when people ask him for feedback after challenges.

The Card in question is this

Corwinnn Treetop Mentor

And here is the method and some examples from Tomigon himself.

When people DM me and ask for feedback, this is what I keep in mind.

(1) Respect the creator's intention
(2) Explain the issue
(3) Make suggestions
(4) Let them know why my suggestions would make the card better
(5) Be nice

And here are examples of feedback, including how I grade each example. I think #5 is the optimum choice

Example #1

Broken.

Feedback Used (2)
This is merely an ineffective comment trying to explain the issue, and not a good piece of feedback.
Feedback Grade - F

Example #2

Just remove one of those abilities and it’s still a decent card.

Feedback Used (3)
A suggestion was made, but not a lot of your reasoning behind it
Feedback Grade - D

Example #3

This loops itself. The 2nd ability should say “nontoken”.

Feedback Used (2) & (3)
Here the issue was addressed and a suggestion was made.
Feedback Grade - C

Example #4

Wow! This is a cool commander for token strategy! However I have one problem with this. Those two abilities make an infinite loop. Perhaps the last ability shouldn't let you draw a card?

Feedback Used (2)(3) & (5)
This kind of feedback is good, because you're engaging the Cardsmith and making a positive connection
Feedback Grade - B

Example #5

I like the idea of making those two abilities interact with each other. But this loops itself and lets you draw an infinite number of cards. Both of those abilities are very powerful, so you can fix that issue in the process of nerfing those abilities.
“Whenever you draw a card, ...” doesn’t feel like mono green’s trigger. I suggest “Whenever a Forest enters the battlefield under your control, ...”
The 2nd ability reminds me of The Great Henge, except this doesn’t have a nontoken clause. But if it says nontoken, this no longer interacts with the first ability. What about “Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control for the first time each turn, ...”?
Considering all those values this card generates, I think {3}{g}{g} [2/2] is a fair balance.
The card that makes drawing a land card in the late game less disappointing is fun. Making a card that has a synergy on itself is a great attempt. Keep it up!
Oh, one more thing. Crediting wrong artist is not good. If you credit the right artist, the card is less likely to be deleted and more chance to get featured!

Feedback Used (1)(2)(3)(4) & (5)
Now were in elite level feedback. In our opinion, this is the kind of deep feedback that anyone who's looking to make MTG accurate cards is looking for.
Feedback Grade - A+

Giving feedback and critiquing cards is one of the coolest things we do aside from forging our own custom creations. We don't expect everyone to give top notch feedback on every card, and not every Cardsmith is looking for someone to point out flaws in the design space of their card. That's why it's important to approach the comments you leave for someone in a way that you would want to hear it.

MTGCardsmith has always been the best interactive online card creator for a reason, and that reason is our Cardsmiths. We want everyone to feel welcome and free to make as many mistakes as they want, even the "on purpose" kind. That's why it's important that when we leave criticism, we do so with the best of intentions!

Card of the Year

Nominations for 2020's Card of the Year are open until January 7th, 2021. Any card made in 2020 is eligible for nomination, just stop by the FORUMS and nominate the card of your choice.

Featured Cardsmiths

First up for 2021 is a Cardsmith that many current Cardsmiths feel is at the top of their game. Irihihi has created nearly 800 cards and two complete sets in full MTG fashion. We're confident that you'll enjoy Irihihi's cards as much as we have, and below we've gathered a small handful, in the hopes it will draw you in to check out more!

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Our second Featured Cardsmith of the new year is none other than SpellPiper2213. We wanted to spotlight this Cardsmith because we've always been a fan, and their cards are always balanced and realistic. When you have a minute, check out SpellPiper2213's cards. When you're there, you'll find not only amazing cards, but some really cool art choices as well!

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Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Jan 01, 2021 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon
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​CCC: Designing With Kindness

When I first started making cards I didn’t understand the color pie at all. I played Magic just enough to understand some basic wordings but not enough to truly grasp what certain colors can and can’t do. The card that really thrust me out onto the MTGCardsmith.com stage was a prime example of this.
 
Cherry Dragon MTG Cardsmith card

Cherry Dragon is a mess, a red one-drop creature that creates enchantments that gain you life. Nothing about it is truly red except for the art. But here’s the thing, why does that matter? Why can’t I create a red card that gains life and creates enchantments?
 
Every day on MTGCardsmith.com, hundreds of cards are created by people with design knowledge ranging from absolutely none to rivaling that of Research and Development (R&D). This has created a bit of a weird environment where cards that functionally make no sense and break all the magic rules end up next to well designed and elegantly balanced creations. It has also led to a weird quirk of the community where if something isn’t exactly how Wizards would make it, someone will point it out. 

Now that’s in no way a bad thing. When I first started my journey on here those comments helped me improve. They taught me how to use syntax, what rules worked on what layers, and led me to eventually understand the color pie. But sometimes these comments go overboard. Instead of being helpful, they can come off as rude or devaluing of the creator and card. This is where two of the greatest forces that drive MTGCardsmith.com clash. Creativity versus Constraints. In today's article I’d like to really lay bare what that means and my own personal take on it.
 

Part 1: What is Creativity Versus Constraint?

To start off, let’s make sure we all know what I mean when I say “Creativity versus Constraint.” On MTGCardsmith.com we create custom Magic The Gathering cards however we so wish. We can create characters, world mechanics, and obviously card designs that don’t exist on paper and may never even come close to it. This is the Creativity side, the ability to create whatever we want, however we want. The other part, however, comes from exactly what it is we’re creating, Magic cards. R&D has very clear (for the most part) rules on what works and what doesn’t within the design space of magic. The color pie is a great example. You don’t see Red blowing up enchantments because that’s not something Red is allowed to do. These are the mostly-agreed-upon constraints within which we create our cards.

Just to summarize all that, Creativity versus Constraint refers to the battling forces of full creative freedom allowed by MTGCardsmith.com and the constraints placed upon Magic by R&D.

It’s this struggle between the two powers that lead to cards like Cherry Dragon existing, but also what leads to them being panned by a large group of creators for not conforming to the color pie. This is where I would like to step in and give my two cents, because there’s something that I feel that we as Cardsmiths kind of forget sometimes.
 

Part 2: No Gods, No Masters

We are not bound by the rules of R&D. Now that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and completely ignore things like the color pie and individual card balance, but if you want to, who am I to stop you?

We create these cards for fun. For some of us that can be making realistic designs that would play well with existing pieces. For others that could mean making a Blue card that deals direct damage or a massive 30/30 creature in White that only costs four Phyrexian mana. Either way, it doesn’t matter because we are free to create as we so please. R&D does not govern us because we exist outside their scope, create however you so want.

If you don’t like the color pie, there’s nothing stopping you from tweaking it. Want Green to have direct creature removal? Want Black to be the color of big beefy creatures? Well go ahead, have fun! That’s what this is all about!

Don’t misunderstand me though. This isn’t me saying you can just ignore what R&D says for the game. They created it after all, and their dictates are valid and true. But as Cardsmiths, we play the role of R&D, and that gives us the ability to work outside of their rules and restrictions. We get to tweak whatever rules we want to at our own discretion. That’s amazing! That’s beautiful and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are the creators of our own restrictions and that can breed innovation for sure, but it’s important not to impose your idea of fun on someone else.
 

Part 3: Wrapping it up all nice

If someone creates a Green card that deals direct damage to a player and it’s really rubbing you wrong, go ahead and comment just don’t be a wad about it. Be gentle, they made that card because it’s fun for them. Sure it may not be what you want to make but that’s okay, you’re both different people and will get your joy from different places. 

Keep your criticisms constructive. Saying something just straight up doesn’t work or saying that a card is bad can come off as mean, especially because tone is hard to pick up from text. Fixing syntax errors, spelling mistakes, and ruling infractions are all fine but when you start getting into discussions about the actual card design, remember to approach it with care and compassion for the person on the other side of the screen.

We are all here creating together. Whether you’re the mad scientist rebelling against WotC and breaking all the rules or you’re the elegant craftsman intricately detailing each mechanic and line, the most important thing to do is to have fun. Never ever forget that.

Thanks for reading ya’ll. It’s been a crazy year out there and I hope that things start to settle soon. If you wanna talk shop about your design space, hit me up in the comments below. You can also find me on Twitter @East2Westmtg or email me at East2westmtg@gmail.com.

As always I’ve been East2West, your resident rule bender and wannabe planeswalker. See you next year friends, happy holidays.
Dec 21, 2020 by East2West
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Wrapping Up 2020

Last month you showed your fellow Cardsmiths some love by giving thanks and showcasing a few of the cards they made that you appreciate, but this month is all about the gifts!

The Gift of Giving.

The Featured Card section this month will not only feature our two amazing Cardsmiths that were hand picked for December, but you will also see cards picked by those who completed all four tasks in last month's Thanks Giving Spectacular! They helped show off some wonderful cards made by others, and now we're showing off some wonderful cards made by them!

The Gift of the Season

This month we've got another incredible avatar coming that was custom created by MTGCardsmith's own Chris Blackstock. He designed the amazing Pumpkin Avatar for Halloween, and he's put his incredible talent on display once more with the Snowman Avatar! Here's a sneak preview! Keep your eyes peeled for it in the Edit Profile section here on the Main Site!

The Gift of Legends

As luck would have it, we're not done yet. There will also be an upcoming Circuit Challenge this month, that you can get started on right away! In this challenge, you'll be asked to Make a Gift for a legendary creature or Planeswalker that was made by another Cardsmith. Some of these gifts might even find their way into a Saga or two!

Featured Cardsmiths

Our first Featured Cardsmith of December is none other than seaspray4TF3. seaspray4TF3 has been a member of MTGCardsmith since 2015 and since then has made some really great cards. We featured just five below, but if you spend a little time in his collection, you'll see that seaspray4TF3 has a lot more than these few cards to look at and enjoy!

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For our second Featured Cardsmith we had to pick Involutus. While this Cardsmith doesn't always make the best cards or even credit the artist as much as we'd like to see, Involutus is an ambitious, out of the box thinker that we believe might just inspire you to look at your own designs a little differently. If you find yourself with some free time, check out this amazing Cardsmith's creations, we think you'll find some pretty interesting cards!

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Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Dec 03, 2020 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon
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CCC: Let's Get Legendary!

Psst, hey you. Yeah, you! Wanna buy some... uuuhhh... legendary creatures? Well boy do I have some good news for you! In case you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, Commander Legends is finally around the corner and I could not be more hyped! Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH) is my favorite format so I wanted to take this month for a chill article and go over my personal Top 10 new cards from Commander Legends. As a quick reminder, I’m not saying these cards are good, all I’m saying is that I am personally extremely hyped to start brewing with them.

Honorable Mentions - Dargo the Shipwrecker and Armored Skyhunter

These are both sweet cards, but I’m not excited about them in EDH. Rather, I’m excited to see these in my other favorite format Canadian Highlander. Dargo is a potential turn one 7/5 which is just absolutely nuts! Armored Skyhunter slots perfectly into Death and Taxes, a deck super close to my heart.


Soul of Eternity Magic Card


10. Soul of Eternity

Lifegain has long been something passed over in EDH, cards like Soul of Eternity give me hope that one day it will become a real archetype. It’s incredibly easy in this grindy format to net a lot of life over time. I’ve played decks that can easily climb to life totals in the triple digits. Soul of Eternity provides these decks with a way to turn that life into damage, and even if it gets removed that Encore ability means you can still get one last swing in with it! I think with a few more solid cards, a green-white life build, featuring cards like Ajani Mentor of Heroes, Serra Ascendant, and the soul sisters might just manifest itself.


Feast of Succession Magic Card


9. Feast of Succession

I feel like a lot of people are really passing over this card, and to be fair it doesn’t look like much. At first glance it looks like a more expensive Languish that has the Monarch tacked on, but hear me out. The Monarch is incredibly powerful and fun in EDH, it encourages interaction and table talk that you don’t normally see along with providing a massive source of card draw. Paying an additional two mana for that is well worth it in my eyes. The board wipe effect that it has helps as well, killing off a solid amount of creatures, which helps ensure that the crown stays yours.


Frenzied Saddlebrute Magic Card


8. Frenzied Saddlebrute

Frenzied Saddlebrute opens the doorway for a kind of Boros deck that’s been in the back of my mind for ages, politics! With cards like Agitator Ant and Orzhov Advokist I think that a really interesting new shell can finally come into existence! Specifically, Saddlebrute gives other players incentives to fight each other and not you while also giving your board haste for when you need a speedy hit. There’s not a whole lot of downside here except for that cost, but between signets, Sol Ring, and other ramps I think Saddlebrute is going to be better than most people expect.


Tormod, the Descecrator Magic Card


7. Tormod, the Desecrator

Tormod represents what I think might be my favorite concept of a self mill deck in EDH. I see this as playing as many creatures as possible that interact with milling and reanimation, then some side pieces such as Tormod’s Crypt, Soul-Guide Lanter, and of course Syr Konrad. What you end up with is a super unique reanimator build with a crazy good token subtheme that would let you flood the board in an instant. Plus he gives you a solid defense against a lot of traditional graveyard hate, netting you a board instead of nuking your plans. Whether you’re running him as the commander or in the 99, I think there’s a real case for him in most graveyard decks.


Nadier's Nightblade


6. Nadier’s Nighblade

Cards like Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat are already insanely good and do trigger when tokens die, but there are other ways to get rid of tokens. Bouncing and blinking tokens is a very common way to avoid death triggers, but Nadier’s Nightblade gets around that little trick. Because the Nightblade triggers whenever a token leaves the battlefield and not just on death it can make your token/aristocrat decks a lot more resilient to board wipes such as Cyclonic Vortex or Settle the Wreckage. Personally, I think this is an absolute auto included in any token deck that can run it, whether or not they intend to sacrifice your own tokens.


Slash the Ranks Magic Card


5. Slash the Ranks

Board wipes are a staple in commander, but it’s always annoying when they end up hitting your commander. Now your game plan is likely disrupted and will cost a bit more to set up again. For the measly cost of one more mana than average, you get the wonderful ability to not kill commanders on your board wipe! Now to be fair, it doesn’t hit other players’ commanders either, but I think that’s a price worth paying. There are near-infinite situations in which this card outpaces most of the other wipes you could be playing and I’m really excited to see them play out.


Flamekin Herald Magic Card


4. Flamekin Herald

Okay so cascade is an amazing ability on its own, but I feel like most people don’t get just how good this card is. Every time you play your commander you not only get a massive piece of your game plan but also a randomized free card! Plus there’s the combo potential of only including certain cards with a CMC lower than your commanders. Doing that would allow you to assemble a combo every single time you cast them! As a side note, I don’t know if playing your commander from other zones also triggers the Herald but if it does I’m even more hype!


Kwain, Itinerant Meddler Magic Card


3. Kwain, Itinerant Meddler

Something I personally love to do is create decks with stories, one of the oldest ones I had was a deck based on the Princess Bride with Chulane at the helm (representing the grandfather reading the story to his grandchild.) Kwain is the perfect bunny to helm my new pet project, an Alice in Wonderland deck. I know that might be a dumb reason to put him this high since honestly I don’t think he’s actually all that good, but this is my list so stay mad.


Belbe, Corrupted Observer Magic Card


2. Belbe, Corrupted Observer

Break out your all-black flannels and put on that plaid dress because we got ourselves a Hot Topic elf heading to an artifact deck near you! Ever since I got my hands on a promo Glissa, the idea of a Golgari artifact deck has fascinated me. All the pieces have been there; Priest of Yawgmoth, Marionette Master, Disciple of the Vault, and many more but we never had any commander aside from Glissa, and let’s face it she is very one-note. Belbe on the other hand lends herself to a very fun and unique variety of ramp, potentially netting us nine mana on turn three! I’ve already disassembled my old Daretti deck and will be converting it into a new home for my favorite goth elven princess. (No she literally is a princess, look it up.)


Obeka, Brute Chronologist Magic Card


1. Obeka, Brute Chronologist

When I was younger I came across the card Chronatog Totem and ever since I’ve been trying to find a place for it. There are a bunch of cards that let you skip your own turn and after all this time, Obeka gives them a home. Now I keep seeing people wanting to use her to skip the end of your turn triggers, and that may be cool for those nerds but if you wanna be a real cool kid just skip your whole turn! You could do what I plan on doing and run mutual effects like Bottomless Pit, or you could go Cumulative Upkeep tribal and skip your upkeep to never pay the cost, hell you can even play cards like Notion Thief to maintain card advantage! There are so many different ways to build and experiment with Obeka, oh it’s going to be amazing!

That’s all for this month, I hope you’re as hype for Commander Legends as I am. What are your favorite cards from the set? Tell me about them in the comments below. You can also reach me on Twitter @East2WestMTG or at East2westmtg@gmail.com. As always I’ve been East2West and I’ll see you guys on the battlefield.

 

Nov 16, 2020 by East2West
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Thanks Giving Spectacular!

November is all about Thanks Giving this year. We're not talking about Turkey and Pumpkin Pie, what we're talking about is more like a Thanks Giving Spectacular! Each week we're going to reveal a task for you that gives thanks to other Cardsmiths around you. Check out the BLOG each week for a new task. The Spectacular part is that each Cardsmith who completes all four tasks will get to pick one card to be Featured at some point in the future!


Featured Cardsmiths

CassZero hasn't been with us long, but has really jumped in full steam ahead, despite English being their second language! Check out CassZero's cards, including their Pauper collection of 250 cards! We think CassZero is poised to become one of the Top Cardsmiths around, but don't just take our word for it... check out these cards and see for yourself!

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Daedalus_The_All_Father has been with us here on MTGCardsmith for almost three years and has been a stalwart in the Colonisers Saga and always favorites the cards of his fellow Cardsmiths, something we admire! Check out Daedalus' cards this month, starting with the five below, and be sure to favorite the ones you like!

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Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Nov 01, 2020 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon
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